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Introductory Note i x 


Mr. Wesley's parentage — Mrs. Susanna Wesley — Samuel Wesley, Jun. 
— Mr. Wesley at school and college — Religious impressions and 
inquiries — Ordination — College honors — Charles Wesley's early life 
— Methodists at Oxford — Origin of the name Methodist 11 


The Wesleys at Oxford — Their efforts to do good — Opposition — Cor- 
respondence with Mr. Wesley, Sen. — Mr. Samuel Wesley, and Mrs. 
Wesley — Mr. John Wesley refuses to settle at Epworth — Remarks 
— Death of Mr. Wesley, Sen. — The Wesleys engage to go out to 
Georgia — Letter of Mr. Gambold 23 


The Wesleys on their voyage — Intercourse with the Moravians — Con- 
duct, troubles, and sufferings in Georgia — Affair of Miss Hopkey — 
Mr. Wesley returns to England 41 


Mr. Wesley's review of his religious experience — Trouble of mind — 
Interview with Peter Bohler — Receives the doctrine of justifica- 
tion by faith — Preaches it — Mr. Charles Wesley's religious expe- 
rience — Remarks 63 


State of religion in the nation — Mr. Wesley's visit to Germany — 
Return to England — His labors in London — Meets with Mr. White- 
field— Dr. Woodward's societies— Mr. Charles Wesley's laborB— 
Field-preaching — Remarks 68 



Effect of the labors of the Messrs. Wesley and Mr. Whitefield at 
Kings-wood — Mr. Wesley at Bath — Statement of his doctrinal views 
— Separates from the Moravians in London — Formation of the 
Methodist Society — Mr. Wesley's mother — Correspondence between 
Mr. John and Mr. Samuel Wesley on extraordinary emotions, and 
the doctrine of Assurance — Remarks — Enthusiasm — Divine influ- 
ence — Difference between Mr. Wesley and Mr. Whitefield — Their 
reconciliation — Mr. Maxfield — Mr. Wesley's defence of his calling 
out preachers to assist him in his work — Remarks 82 


Persecution in London — Institution of classes — Mr. Wesley charged 
with being a Papist — His labors in Yorkshire, Northumberland, and 
Lincolnshire — Death of Mrs. Susanna Wesley — Labors and perse- 
cutions of Mr. Charles Wesley in Staffordshire and Yorkshire — In- 
crease of the societies — Mr. Wesley's danger and escape at Wednes- 
bury — His first visit to Cornwall — Riots in Staffordshire — Preaches 
for the last time before the University of Oxford — Correspondence 
with the Rev. J. Erskine — His sermon on "A Catholic Spirit" — 
First Conference held — Remarks 106 


Mr. ChaMes Wesley's labors in Cornwall, Kent, Staffordshire, and the 
north of England — Persecution at Devizes — Remarks — Mr. Wesley 
at Newcastle — His statement of the case between the clergy and 
the Methodists — Remarks — Labors in Lincolnshire, etc. — Persecu- 
tions in Cornwall — Count Zinzendorf — Dr. Doddridge — Mr. Wesley 
a writer of tracts — His sentiments on Church government — Ex- 
tracts from the Minutes of the early Conferences — Remarks — Mr. 
Wesley's labors in different parts of the kingdom — His zeal to dif- 
fuse useful knowledge — Mobs in Devonshire— .Visits Ireland — Suc- 
ceeded there by his brother — Persecutions in Dublin 128 


Labors of the preachers — Doctrinal conversations of the Conferences- 
Justification — Repentance — Faith — Assurance — Remarks — Fruits 
of justifying faith — Sanctification — Witness of the Spirit — Remarks 
— Spirit in which Mr. Wesley sought truth — Miscellaneous extracts 
from the Minutes of the early Conferences — Notices of the deaths 
of preachers — Remarks 158 


Early list of circuits — Mr. Charles Wesley in London — Earthquake 
there — Differences between Mr, Charles Wesley and the preachers— 


Remarks — Respective views of the brothers — Mr. Wesley's mar 
riage — Mr. Perronet — Kingswood School — Remarks — Mr. Wesley 
visits Scotland — Letters — Sickness — Mr. Whitefield's letter to him 
in anticipation of his death — Mr. Wesley's remarks on books — 
His Address to the Clergy — Remarks — Hervey's Letters 195 


Methodism in America — Revivals of religion — Remarks — Mr. Wes- 
ley's labors — Notices of Books from his Journals — Minutes of the 
Conference of 1770 — Remarks — Mr. Shirley's Circular — Mr. Wes- 
ley's "Declaration" — Controversy respecting the Minutes — Re- 
marks — Increase of the societies — Projects for the management of 
the Connection after Mr. Wesley's death 216 


Mr. Wesley's sickness in Ireland — 'Letter to the Commissioners of Ex- 
cise — Visit to the Isle of Man — Opening of City Road chapel — "Ar- 
rninian Magazine" — Disputes in the society at Bath — Mr. Wesley's 
letter to a nobleman— His visit to Holland — " Deed of Declaration" 
—Remarks 245 


State of the societies in America — Ordination of superintendents 
and elders for the American societies — Remarks — Dr. Coke — Mr. 
Asbury — Mr. Charles Wesley's remonstrances — Ordinations for 
Scotland — Remarks — Mr. Wesley's second visit to Holland — His 
labors in England, Ireland, and the Norman Isles — Return to 
London — Remarks — Extract from a sermon by Bishop Copleston — 
Mr. Wesley's reflections on the progress of the work, and on enter- 
ing his eighty-fifth year 260 


Death of Mr. Charles Wesley — His character — His hymns — Re- 
marks — Mr. Montgomery's "Psalmist" — Anecdote of the Rev. 
Samuel Wesley, Sen. — Mr. Wesley's continued labors — Reflections 
on entering his eighty-eighth year — Last sickness — Death — Funeral 
— Epitaph — Sketches of his character by different writers 2'.»1 


Mr. Wesley and the Church— Modern Methodism and the Church- 
Charges refuted— Mr. Wesley's writings— Extent of the Methodist 
societies at his death, and at the present time— Conclusion 327 


Various Lives or Memoirs of the Founder of Methodism 
have already been laid before the public. But it has been 
frequently remarked, that such of these as contain the most 
approved accounts of Mr. Wesley have been carried out to a 
length which obstructs their circulation, by the intermixture 
of details comparatively uninteresting beyond the immediate 
circle of Wesleyan Methodism. The present Life, therefore, 
without any design to supersede larger publications, has been 
prepared with more special reference to general readers. But, 
as it is contracted within moderate limits chiefly by the exclu- 
sion of extraneous matter, it will, it is hoped, be found suffi- 
ciently comprehensive to give the reader an adequate view of 
the life, labors, and opinions of the eminent individual who 
is its subject; and to afford the means of correcting the most 
material errors and misrepresentations which have had cur- 
rency respecting him. On several points the Author has had 
the advantage of consulting unpublished papers, not known tc 
preceding biographers, and which have enabled him to place 
some particulars in a more satisfactory light. 

London, May 10, 1831. 


fittnkdflrg ft oh. 

It has been said, the Life of Wesley has yet to be written. 
We contend that the Life of Wesley has been written. What- 
ever objections may be made to the works of Hampson, Coke, 
Whitehead, Moore, Southey, and other biographers of Mr. 
Wesley, his Life by Mr. Watson is a very different affair from 
any of these publications — it is worthy of the title it bears, 
and of the rank to which it has been assigned. It is impar- 
tial, genial, judicious ; and, notwithstanding its brevity, it does 
not fail to give the reader a just view of its subject. It is 
not ornate; and we submit that a flowery style would be ill- 
adapted to such a work. If the author does not philosophize 
quite as much on the principles, measures, and movements 
of "Wesley and Methodism" as some might desire, he does 
quite as much as might be satisfactory and safe. A devout 
recognition of the hand of Providence in the great Wesleyan 
movement, well supplies the place of philosophical pragmatism, 
even if it were of a less objectionable type than that which is 
furnished us by Dr. Southey and Isaac Taylor. He might 
have interwoven more incidents into the biography; but 
enough is introduced to give it life, and to inspire the reader 
with an appetite for more. This can be gratified by a perusal 
of Wesley's Journal and other works, which, in fact, consti- 



tute an autobiography rich, racy, and edifying, almost beyond 
parallel. The failures and errors of preceding biographies 
are noted and corrected, wherever justice demands or good 
taste allows it to be done. Nothing can be desiderated in that 
direction, except a formal review and exposure of Dr. Southey's 
book; and this we have in the "Observations on Southey's 
Life of Wesley." 

Occupying a different stand-point, both in time and place, 
from that of the respected author, we have considered it ad- 
visable to add a few marginal notes, which, it is hoped, will 
somewhat enhance the value of the present edition, to those, 
at least, for whom it is more particularly prepared. With the 
exception of these additions, this is a faithful reprint of the 
last revised London edition of this excellent biography. 

Thomas 0. Summers. 
Nashville, Tenn., Nov, 15, 1856 





Mr. Wesley's parentage — Mrs. Susanna Wesley — Samuel Wesley, Jr. 
— Mr, Wesley at school and college — Religious impressions and 
inquiries — Ordination — College honors — Charles Wesley's early 
life — Methodists at Oxford — Origin of the name Methodist. 

John and Charles Wesley, the chief founders of that 
religious body now commonly known by the name of the 
"Wesleyan Methodists, were the sons of the Rev. Samuel Wes- 
ley, rector of Epworth, in Lincolnshire. 

Of this clergyman, and his wife Mrs. Susanna Wesley, who 
was the daughter of the Rev. Dr. Annesley, as well as of the 
ancestors of both, an interesting account will be found in Dr. 
Adam Clarke's " Memoirs of the Wesley Family," and in the 
"Life of Mr. John Wesley," by Dr. Whitehead, and the 
more recent one by Mr. Moore. They will be noticed here 
only so far as a general knowledge of their character may be 
necessary to assist our judgment as to the opinions and con- 
duct of their more celebrated sons. 

The rector of Epworth, like his excellent wife, had de- 
scended from parents distinguished for learning, piety, and 
Nonconformity. His father dying whilst he was young, he 


forsook the Dissenters at an early period of life; and Lis con- 
version carried him into High-Church principles, and political 
Toryism. He was not, however, so rigid in the former as to 
prevent him from encouraging the early zeal of his sons, John 
and Charles, at Oxford, although it was even then somewhat 
irregular, when tried by the strictest rules of Church order 
and custom; and his Toryism, sufficiently high in theory, was 
yet of that class which regarded the rights of the subject 
tenderly in practice. He refused flattering overtures made 
by the adherents of James II. to induce him to support the 
measures of the court, and wrote in favor of the Revolution 
of 1688 ; admiring it, probably, less in a political view, than 
as rescuing a Protestant Church from the dangerous influence 
of a Popish head. For this service, he was presented with 
the living of Epworth, in Lincolnshire, to which, a few years 
afterwards, was added that of Wroote, in the same county. 

He held the living of Epworth upwards of forty years, and 
was distinguished for the zeal and fidelity with which he dis- 
charged his parish duties. Of his talents and learning, his 
remaining works afford honorable evidence. 

Mrs. Susanna Wesley, the mother of Mr. John Wesley, 
was, as might be expected from the eminent character of Dr. 
Samuel Annesley, her father, educated with great care. Like 
her husband, she also, at an early period of life, renounced 
Nonconformity, and became a member of the Established 
Church, after, as her biographers tell us, she had read and 
mastered the whole controversy on the subject of separation ; 
of which, however, great as were her natural and acquired 
talents, she must, at the age of thirteen years, have been a very 
imperfect judge. The serious habits impressed upon both by 
their education did not forsake them : " they feared God, 
and wrought righteousness;" but we may perhaps account for 
that obscurity in the views of each on several great points of 
evangelical religion, and especially on justification by faith, 
and the offices of the Holy Spirit, which hung over their 
minds for many years, and indeed till towards the close of 
life, from this early change of their religious connections. 
Their theological reading, according to the fashion of the 
Church people of that day, was now directed rather to the 
writings of those divines of the English Church who were 
tinctured more or less with a Pelagianized Arminianism, than 


to the works of its founders; of their successors, the Puri- 
tans; or of those eminent Nonconformists, whose views of 
discipline they had renounced. They had parted with Calvin- 
ism ; but, like many others, they renounced with it, for want 
of spiritual discrimination, those truths which were as fully 
maintained in the theology of Arminius, and in that of their 
eminent son, who revived and more fully illustrated it, as in 
the writings of the most judicious and spiritual Calvinistic 
divines themselves. Taylor, Tillotson, and Bull, who became 
their oracles, were Arminians of a different class. 

The advantage of such a parentage to the Wesleys was 
great. From their earliest years they had an example, in the 
father, of all that could render a clergyman respectable and 
influential; and in the mother there was a sanctified wisdom, 
a masculine understanding, and an acquired knowledge, which 
they regarded with just deference after they became men and 
scholars. The influence of a piety so steadfast and uniform, 
joined to such qualities, and softened by maternal tenderness, 
could scarcely fail to produce effect. The firm and manly 
character, the practical sense, the active and unwearied habits 
of the father, with the calm, reflecting, and stable qualities 
of the mother, were in particular inherited by Mr. John Wes- 
ley, and in him were most happily blended. A large portion 
of the ecclesiastical principles and prejudices of the rector of 
Epworth was also transmitted to his three sons ; but whilst 
Samuel and Charles retained them least impaired, in John, as 
we shall see, they sustained in future life considerable modi- 

Samuel, the eldest son, was born in 1692 ; John, in 1703 ; 
and Charles, in 1708. 

Samuel Wesley, junior, was educated at Westminstrr 
School; and in 1711 was elected to Christ Church, Oxford. 
He was eminent for his learning, and was an excellent poo 

with great power of satire, and an elegant wit. lie held a 
considerable rank among the literary men of the day, and 
finally settled as Head Master of the Free School of Tiver- 
ton, in Devonshire, where he died in 1739, in his forty-nmth 

Mrs. Wesley was the instructress of her children in their 
early years. " I can find," says Dr. Whitehead, " no evi- 
dence that the boys were ever put to any school in the coun- 


try ; their mother having a very had opinion of the common 
methods of instructing and governing children. " She was 
particularly led, it would seem, to interest herself in John, 
who, when he was about six years old, had a providential and 
singular escape from being burned to death, when the parson- 
age-house was consumed.* There is a striking passage in one 
of her private meditations, which contains a reference to this 
event; and indicates that she considered it as laying her 
under a special obligation " to be more particularly careful of 
the soul of a child whom God had so mercifully provided 
for." The effect of this special care on the part of the mother 
was, that, under the Divine blessing, he became early 1 serious; 
for, at the age of eight years, he was admitted by his father 
to partake of the sacrament. In 1714, he was placet! at the 
Charter House, " where he was noticed for his diligence, and 
progress in learning.""j* " Here, for his quietness, regularity, 
and application, he became a favorite with the malter, Dr. 
Walker; and through life he retained so great a predilection 
for the place, that, on his annual visit to London, he npade it 
a custom to walk through the scene of his boyhood. lb most 
men, every year would render a pilgrimage of this kind more 
painfulHhan the last; but Wesley seems never to have Jooked 
back with melancholy upon the days that were gone ; e'arthly 
regrets of this kind could find no room in one who wafe con- 
tinually pressing onward to the goal. "J When he had attained 
his seventeenth year, he was elected to Christ Church, Oxford, 
" where he pursued his studies with great advantage, t be- 
lieve under the direction of Dr. Wigan, a gentleman eminent 
for his classical knowledge. Mr. Wesley's natural temper in 
his youth was gay and sprightly, with a turn for wit and 
humor. When he was about twenty-one years of age, V he 
appeared,' as Mr. Badcock has observed, 'the very sensible 
and acute collegian ; a young fellow of the finest classical 
taste, of the most liberal and manly sentiments. '§ His per- 
fect knowledge of the classics gave a smooth polish to his wit, 
and an air of superior elegance to all his compositions. He 

* The memory of his deliverance, on this occasion, is preserved in 
one of his early portraits, which has, below the head, the representa- 
tion of a house in flames, with the motto, " Is not this a braniji 
plucked from the burning ?" 

f Whitehead's Life. J Southey's Life. \ Westminster Magazine. 


had already begun to amuse himself occasionally with writing 
verses; though most of his* poetical pieces, at this period, 
were, I believe, either imitations or translations of the Latin. 
Some time in this year, however, he wrote an imitation of the 
sixty-fifth Psalm, which he sent to his father, who says, 'I 
like your verses on the sixty-fifth Psalm ; and would not have 
you bury your talent.' "* 

Some time after this, when purposing to take deacon's 
orders, he was roused from the religious carelessness into 
which he had fallen at college, and applied himself diligently 
to the reading of divinity. This more thoughtful frame ap- 
pears to have been indicated in his letters to his mother, with 
whom he kept up a regular correspondence; for she replies, 
"The alteration of your temper has occasioned me much specu- 
lation. I, who am apt to be sanguine, hope it may proceed 
from the operations of God's Holy Spirit, that, by taking off 
your relish for earthly enjoyments, he may prepare and dispose 
your mind for a more serious and close application to things 
of a more sublime and spiritual nature. If it be so, happy 
are you if you cherish those dispositions; and now, in good 
earnest, resolve to make religion the business of your life; 
for, after all, that is the one thing which, strictly speaking, is 
necessary; all things beside are comparatively little to the 
purposes of life. I heartily wish you would now enter upon 
a strict examination of yourself, that you may know whether 
you have a reasonable hope of salvation by Jesus Christ. If 
you have, the satisfaction of knowing it will abundantly 
reward your pains; if you have not, you will find a more 
reasonable occasion for tears than can be met with in a tragedy. 
This matter deserves great consideration by all, but especially 
by those designed for the ministry; who ought, above all 
things, to make their own calling and election sure ; lest, after 
they have preached to others, they themselves should be cast 

: This excellent advice was not lost upon him; and, indeed, 
jbis mother's admirable letters were among the principal means, 
under God, of producing that still more decided change in 
his views which soon afterwards began to display itself. He 
was now about twenty-two years of age. 

* Whitehead's Life. 


The practical books moft read by him at this period, which 
was probably employed as a course of preparation for holy 
orders, were, "The Christian's Pattern," by Thomas b. 
Kempis; and Bishop Taylor's "Rules of Holy Living and 
Dying ;" and his correspondence with his parents respecting 
these authors shows how carefully he was weighing th^ir mer- 
its, and investigating their meaning, as regarding them in the 
light of spiritual instructors. The letters of his mother, on 
the poiuts offered to her consideration by her son, snow, in 
many respects, a deeply thinking and discriminating mind ; 
but they are also in proof that both she and her husband had 
given up their acquaintance, if they ever had any, witfi works 
which might have been recommended as much morejsuitable 
to the state of their son's mind, and far superior as a directory 
to true Christianity. This to him would have been infinitely 
more important than discussing the peculiar views, and adjust- 
ing the proportion of excellency and defect, which pay be 
found in such a writer as Kempis*, whose "Christian's Pat- 
tern" is, where in reality excellent, a manual rather for him 
who is a Christian already, than for him who is seeking to 
become one. 

A few things are, however, to be remarked in this cor- 
respondence which are of considerable interest, as showing the 
bearings of Mr. Wesley's views as to those truths of which he 
afterwards obtained a satisfactory conviction, and then so 
clearly stated and defended. 

The son, in writing to his mother on Bishop Taylor's book, 
states several particulars which Bishop Taylor makes necessary 
parts of humility and repentance ; one of which, in reference 
to humility, is, that "we must be sure, in some sense or ot^er, 
to think ourselves the worst in every company where we come." 
And in treating of repentance, he says, "Whether God has 
forgiven us, or no, we know not : therefore, be sorrowful ^or 
ever having sinned." "I take the more notice of this kst 
sentence," says Mr. Wesley, " because it seems to contradict 
his own words in the next section, where he says, that by the 
Lord's supper all the members are united to one another, and 
to Christ the head. The Holy Ghost confers on us the graces 
necessary for, and our souls receive the seeds of, an immortal 
nature. Now, surely these graces are not of so little force as 
that we cannot perceive whether we have them or not : if 


we dwell in Christ, and Christ in us, which he will not do 
unless we are regenerate, certainly we must be sensible of it. 
If we can never have any certainty of our being in a state of 
salvation, good reason it is that every moment should be 
spent, not in joy, but in fear and trembling; and then un- 
doubtedly, in this life, we are of all men most miserable. 
Gpd deliver us from such a fearful expectation as this ! Hu- 
mility is, undoubtedly, necessary to salvation ; and if all these 
things are essential to humility, who can be humble ? who 
can be saved V 

The mother, in reply, suggests to him some good thoughts 
and useful distinctions on the subject of humility ; but omits 
to afford, him any assistance on the point of the possibility of 
obtaining a comfortable persuasion of being in a state of 
salvation, through the influence of the Holy Spirit; which 
he already discerned to be the privilege of a real believer, 
though as yet he was greatly perplexed as to the means of 
attaining it. At this period, too, he makes the important dis- 
tinction between assurance of present, and assurance of future, 
salvation; by confounding which, so many, from their objec- 
tion to the Calvinistic notion of the infallible perseverance of 
the saints, have given up the doctrine of assurance altogether. 
"That we can never be so certain of the pardon of our sins, 
as to be assured they will never rise up against us, I firmly 
believe. We know that they will infallibly do so if ever we 
apostatize; and I am not satisfied what evidence there can be 
of our final perseverance, till we have finished our course. 
But I am persuaded we may know if we are now in a state 
of salvation, since that is expressly promised in the Holy 
Scriptures to our sincere endeavors ; and we are surely able to 
judge of our own sincerity." 

The latter part of this extract will, however, show how 
much he had yet to learn as to "the way to the Father." 
Mrs. Wesley also corrects a defective definition of faith, which 
her son's letter had contained, in the following sensible re- 
marks ; which are just, as far as they go, but below the true 
scriptural standard, and the proper conception of that saving 
faith after which her son was inquiring : — " Vou are somewhat 
mistaken in your notions of faith. All faith is an assent, but 
all assent is not faith. Some truths arc self-evident; and wis 
assent to them because they are so. Others, after a regular 


and formal process of reason, by way of deduction from some 
self-evident principle, gain our assent. This is not properly 
faith, but science. Some, again, we assent to, not because 
they are self-evident, or because we have attained the know- 
ledge of them in a regular method, by a train of arguments, 
but because they have been revealed to us, either by God or 
man; and these are the proper objects of faith. The true 
measure of faith is the authority of the revealer ; the weight 
of which always holds proportion to our conviction of his 
ability and integrity. Divine faith is an assent to whatever 
God has revealed to us, because he has revealed it." 

Predestination was another subject touched upon in this 
interesting correspondence. Mr. Wesley was probably led to 
it by his review of the articles of the Church, previous to his 
ordination ; and he thus expresses himself on this controverted 
subject : " What then shall I say of predestination ? An ever- 
lasting purpose of God to deliver some from damnation, does, 
I suppose, exclude all from that deliverance who are not chosen. 
And if it was inevitably decreed from eternity that such a 
determinate part of mankind should be saved, and none beside 
them, a vast majority of the world were only born to eternal 
death, without so much as a possibility of avoiding it. How 
is this consistent with either the Divine justice or mercy ? 
Is it merciful to ordain a creature to everlasting misery ? Is 
it just to punish a man for crimes which he could not but 
commit ? That God should be the author of sin and injustice, 
which must, I think, be the consequence of maintaining this 
opinion, is a contradiction to the clearest ideas we have of the 
Divine nature and perfections."* 

From these views he never departed; and the terms he 
uses contain, indeed, the only rational statement of the whole 

He was ordained deacon in September, 1725 ; and the 
year following was elected Fellow of Lincoln College. His 
previous seriousness had been the subject of much banter and 
ridicule, and appears to have been urged against him, in the 
election, by his opponents ; but his reputation for learning 
and diligence, and the excellence of his character, triumphed; 
and, what was probably to him the greatest pleasure, he had 

* Whitehead's Life. 


the gratification of seeing the joy this event gave to his vene- 
rable parents, and which was emphatically expressed in their 
letters. Several specimens of his poetry, composed about this 
time, are given by his biographers, which show that, had he 
cultivated that department of literature, he would not have 
occupied an inferior place among the tasteful and elegant vo- 
taries of verse; but he soon found more serious and more 
useful employment. 

He spent the summer after his election to the Fellowship 
with his parents, in Lincolnshire, and took that opportunity 
of conversing with them at large upon those serious topics 
which then fully occupied his mind. In September, he 
returned to Oxford, and resumed his usual studies. " His 
literary character was now established in the university : he 
was acknowledged by all parties to be a man of talents, and 
an excellent critic in the learned languages. His composi- 
tions were distinguished by an elegant simplicity of style, 
and justness of thought, that strongly marked the excellence 
of his classical taste. His skill in logic, or the art of reason- 
ing, was universally known and admired. The high opinion 
that was entertained of him in these respects was soon pub- 
licly expressed, by choosing him Greek Lecturer, and Mode- 
rator of the Classes, on the seventh of November ; though he 
had only been elected Fellow of the College in March, was 
little more than twenty-three years of age, and had not pro- 
ceeded Master of Arts." * He took this degree in Febru- 
ary, 1727; became his father's curate in August the same 
year; returned to Oxford in 1728, to obtain priest's orders; 
and paid another visit to Oxford in 1729 ; where, during his 
stay, he attended the meetings of a small society formed by 
his brother Charles, Mr. Morgan, and a few others, to assist 
each other in their studies, and to consult how to employ 
their time to the best advantage. 

After about a month, he returned to Epworth ; but upon 
Dr. Morley, the rector of his college, requiring his residence, 
he quitted his father's curacy, and in November again settled 
in Oxford. He now obtained pupils, and became tutor in the 
college; presided as moderator in the disputations six times 

* Whitehead's Life. 


a week ; and had the chief direction, of a religions society. 
From this time he stood more prominently forward in his 
religious character, and in efforts to do good to others- and 
began more fully to prove that "they that will live godly in 
Christ Jesus must suffer persecution." It is, however, neces- 
sary to turn to the history of Mr. Charles Wesley, whost la- 
bors in the early periods of Methodism were inferior only to 
those of his brother. 

Charles Wesley was, as above stated, five years younger 
than his brother John; and was educated at Westminster 
School, under his eldest brother, Samuel, from whom he is 
said to have derived a still stronger tincture of High-Church 
principles than was imbibed under the paternal roof. " When 
he had been some years at school, Mr. R. Wesley, a gentle- 
man of large fortune in Ireland, wrote to his father, and asked 
if he had any son named Charles ; if so, he would make him 
his heir. Accordingly, a gentleman in London brought 
money for his education several years. But one year another 
gentleman called, probably Mr. Wesley himself, talked largely 
with him, and asked if he was willing to go with him to Ire- 
land. Mr. Charles desired to write to his father, who an- 
swered immediately, and referred it to his own choice. He 
chose to stay in England."* " Mr. John Wesley, in his ac- 
count of his brother, calls this a fair escape. The fact is 
more remarkable than he was aware of; for the person who 
inherited the property intended for Charles Wesley, and who 
took the name of Wesley, or Wellesley, in consequence, was 
the first Earl of Mornington, grandfather of Marquis Welles- 
ley and the Duke of Wellington." -f- 

The lively disposition of Charles, although he pursued his 
studies diligently, and was unblamable in his conduct, re- 
pelled all those exhortations to a more strictly religious course 
which John seriously urged upon him after he was elected to 
Christ Church. During his brother's absence, as his father's 
curate, his letters, however, became more grave; and when 
Mr. John Wesley returned to Oxford, in November, 1729, 
"I found him," he observes, "in great earnestness to save 
his soul." His own account of himself is, that he lost his 

* Whitehead's Life, vol. i., p. 98. f Southey's Life. 


first year at college in diversions : that the next he set him- 
self to study : that diligence led him into serious thinking: 
that he went to the weekly sacrament, persuading two or 
three students to accompany him • and that he observed the 
method of study prescribed by the statutes of the university. 
"This," says he, "gained me the harmless name of Method- 
ist."* Thus it appears that Charles was the first modern 
Methodist, and that he, in fact, laid the foundations of the re- 
ligious society which continues to be distinguished by that ap- 
pellation. To this society Mr. John Wesley joined himself 
on his return to reside at Oxford; and by his influence and 
energy gave additional vigor to their exertions to promote their 
own spiritual improvement and the good of others. The 
union of system and efficiency which this association presented 
well accorded with his practical and governing mind; and, no 
doubt, under the leadings of a superior agency, of which he 

* From the name of an ancient sect of physicians, say some of Mr. 
"Wesley's biographers ; but probably the wits of Oxford, who imposed 
the name, knew nothing of that sect of the middle ages. The Non- 
conformists were often called, in derision, Methodists ; and the name 
was probably transmitted from them ; or it might be given merely from 
the rigid adherence to method in study by Mr. Charles Wesley. It is, 
however, somewhat worthy of notice, that before the times of Non- 
conformity, properly so called, we find Methodists mentioned as one 
of the minor sects in conjunction with the Anabaptists ; for, as early 
as 1639, in a sermon preached at Lambeth, they are rated in good set 
style for their aversion to rhetorical sermons: "Where are now our 
Anabaptists, and plain pack-staff Methodists, who esteem of all flow- 
ers of rhetoric in sermons no better than stinking weeds, and of all 
elegancies of speech no better than profane spells ?" etc. Their fault 
in those days, it appears, was to prefer plain preaching : no bad com- 
pliment, though an undesigned one. The epithet used to describe 
them, may also intimate that they were plain in dress and manners. 
At a later period, 1693, some of the Nonconformists, who had re- 
nounced the imputation of Christ's righteousness in justification, ex- 
cept in the merit of it, and whose views were somewhat similar to 
those of the Wesleyan Methodists on the imputation of faith for 
righteousness, were called by their brethren, the New Methodists. 
Tbey were not, however, a sect, but were so denoted from the new 
method which they took in stating the doctrine of justification. 
Thus we have a Calvinistic pamphlet, under this date, written againsi 
"the principles of the New Methodists in the great point of justifi- 


was unconscious, he was thus training himself to those habita 
of regular and influential exertion and enterprise which subse- 
quently rendered him the instrument of a revival of religion 
throughout the land. Of the little society of which, by the 
mere force of his character, he thus became the head, Mr. 
Hervey, the author of the " Meditations/' and the celebrated 
Whitefield, were members. 



The Wesleys at Oxford — Their efforts to do good — Opposition — Cor- 
respondence with Mr. Wesley, Sen. — JVJr. Samuel Wesley, and Mrs. 
Wesley — Mr. John Wesley refuses to settle at Epworth — Remarks — 
Death of Mr. Wesley, Sen. — The Wesleys engage to go out to 
Georgia — Letter of Mr. Gambold. 

The strictly religious profession which Mr. Wesley must 
now be considered as making at Oxford — a profession so 
strongly marked as to become matter of public notice, and 
accompanied with so much zeal as to excite both ridicule and 
opposition — requires to be carefully examined. After all, 
he thought himself to be but " almost," and not "altogether/' 
a Christian — a conclusion of a very perplexing kind to many 
who have set up themselves for better judges in his case than 
he himself. From a similar cause, we have seen St. Paul all 
but reproved by some divines for representing himself as the 
chief of sinners at the time when he was " blameless" as to 
"the righteousness of the law;" and, but for the courtesy 
due to an inspired man, he would, probably, in direct contra- 
diction to his own words, have been pronounced the chief of 
saints ; although his heart remained a total stranger to hu- 
mility and charity. 

The Wesleys at Oxford were indeed, not only in a higher, 
but in an essentially different, state of religious experience 
from that of Saul of Tarsus, notwithstanding his array of 
legal zeal and external virtue ; but if our views of personal 
religion must be taken from the New Testament, although as 
to men they were blameless and exemplary, yet, in respect to 
God, those internal changes had not taken place in them 
which it is the office of real Christianity to effect. They 


were, however, most sincere : they were " faithful in that 
which is little," and God gave them "the true riches/' 
They ''sought God with all their heart;" and they ultimately 
found him, but in a way which at that time " they knew not." 
The very writers, Bishop Taylor and Mr. Law, who so power- 
fully wrought upon their consciences, were among the most 
erring guides to that " peace of God which passeth all under- 
standing," for which they sighed; and those celebrated di- 
vines, excelled by none for genius and eloquence, who could 
draw the picture of a practical piety so copious and exact in 
its external manifestations, were unable to teach that mystic 
connection of the branches with the vine, from which the 
only fruits that are of healthy growth and genuine flavor can 
proceed. Both are too defective in their views of faith, and 
of its object — the atonement of Christ — to be able to direct a 
penitent and troubled spirit into the way of salvation, and to 
show how all the principles and acts of truly Christian piety 
are sustained by a life of "faith in the Son of God." To 
this subject, however, Mr. Wesley's own account of himself 
will, subsequently, again call our attention. 

Bishop Taylor's chapter on purity of intention first con- 
vinced Mr. Wesley of the necessity of being holy in heart, 
as well as regular in his outward conduct; and having, for 
the first time, formed an acquaintance with a religious friend, 
" he began to alter the whole form of his conversation, and 
to set in earnest upon a new life." " He communicated every 
week. He watched against all sin, whether in word or deed, 
and began to aim at and pray for inward holiness ;"* but 
still with a painful consciousness that he found not that 
which he so earnestly sought. His error at this period was 
drawn from his theological guides just mentioned : he either 
confounded sanctification with justification, that is, a real with 
a relative change, or he regarded sanctification as a prepara- 
tion for, and a condition of, justification. He had not yet 
learned the apostle's doctrine, the gratuitous justification of 
" the ungodly," when penitent, and upon the sole condition 
of believing in Christ; nor that upon this there follows a 
"death" unto all inward and outward sin, so that he who is 
so justified can "no longer continue therein." It is, how- 

* Journal. 


ever, deeply interesting to trace the progress of his mind 
through its agitations, inquiries, hopes, and fears, until the 
moment when he found that steadfast peace which never 
afterwards forsook him, but gave serenity to his countenance, 
and cheerfulness to his heart, to the last hour of a prolonged 

The effects of the strong impression which had been made 
upon him by the practical writings of Taylor and Law 
promptly manifested themselves. The discipline he main- 
tained as a tutor over his pupils was more strict than the 
university had been accustomed to witness; and for this 
reason, that it was more deeply and comprehensively con- 
scientious. He regarded himself as responsible to God for 
exerting himself to his utmost, not only to promote their 
learning, but to regulate their moral habits, and to form 
their religious principles. Here his disciplinary habits had 
their first manifestation. He required them to rise very 
early : he directed their reading, and controlled their general 
conduct, by rules to which he exacted entire obedience. 
This was not well taken by the friends of some; but from 
others he received very grateful letters; and several of his 
pupils themselves were not insensible of the obligations they 
owed to him, not only on a religious account, but for thus 
enabling them to reap the full advantages of that seat of 
learning, by restraining them from its dissipations. 

The little society of Methodists, as they were called, began 
now to -extend its operations. When Mr. Wesley joined 
them, they committed its management to him ; and he has 
himself stated its original members : 

"In November, 1729, four young gentlemen of Oxford — 
Mr. John Wesley, Fellow of Lincoln College; Mr. Charles 
Wesley, Student of Christ Church; Mr. Morgan, Commoner 
of Christ Church; and Mr. Kirkman, of Morton Colleg( — 
began to spend some evenings in a week together, in muling 
chiefly the Greek Testament. The next year, two or throe 
of Mr. John Wesley's pupils desired the liberty of meeting 
with them; and afterward one of Mr. Charles Wesley's pu- 
pils. It was in 1732 that Mr. Ingham, of Queen's College, 
and Mr. Broughton, of Exeter, were added to their number. 
To these, in April, was joined Mr. Clayton, of Brazen-nose, 
with two or three of his pupils. About the same time Mr. 


James Hervey was perniifted to meet with them, and after- 
ward Mr. Whitefield."* 

Mr. Morgan led the way to their visiting the prisoners in 
the Oxford jail, for the purpose of affording them religious 
instruction. They afterward resolved to spend two or three 
hours a week in visiting and relieving the poor and the sick, 
generally, where the parish minister did not object to it. 
This was, however, so novel a practice, and might be 
deemed by some so contrary to Church order, that Mr. Wes- 
ley consulted his father upon the point. Mr. Wesley, senior, 
answered the inquiry in a noble letter, equally honorable to 
his feelings as a father, and a minister of Christ. They had 
his full sanction for prosecuting their pious labors : he 
blessed God who had given him two sons together at Oxford, 
who had received grace and courage to turn the war against 
the world and the devil : he bids them defy reproach, and 
animates them, in God's name, to go on in the path to which 
their Saviour had directed them. At the same time, he ad- 
vises them to consult with the chaplain of the prison, and to 
obtain the approbation of the bishop. This high sanction 
was obtained; but it was not sufficient to screen them from 
the rebukes of the gravely lukewarm, or the malignantly vi- 
cious. Sarcasm and serious opposition robbed them of one 
of their number, who had not fortitude to bear the shafts of 
ridicule, or to resist the persuasion of friends; and the oppo- 
sition being now headed by some persons of influence, Mr. 
Wesley had again recourse, by letter, to his father's counsel. 
The answer deserves to be transcribed at length : 

" This day I received both yours ; and this evening, in the 
course of our reading, I thought I found an answer that 
would be more proper than any I myself could dictate; 
though, since it will not be easily translated, I send it in the 
original : TLoXXfj p,oi nav%r]Oi(; virep v^lojv 7reTT/{,r)pG){iaL rip 
TTaparcXfjGei' vnepTTspLaoevojj-aL r^ ^;apa."j" What would you be '/ 
Would you be angels ? I question whether a mortal can 
arrive to a greater degree of perfection than steadily to do 
good, and for that very reason patiently and meekly to suffer 
evil. For my part, on the present view of your actions and 

* Journal. 

f 2 Cor. vii. 4: "Great is my glorying of you. I am filled with 
comfort. I am exceeding joyful." — Authorized Version. 


designs, my daily prayers are that God would keep you hum- 
ble, and then I am sure that if you continue ' to suffer for 
righteousness' sake/ though it be but in a lower degree, the 
Spirit of God and of glory shall in some good measure rest 
upon you. And you cannot but feel such a satisfaction in 
your own minds as you would not part with for all the world. 
Be never weary of well-doing : never look back, for you know 
the prize and the crown are before you ; though I can scarce 
think so meanly of you, as that you should be discouraged 
with the l crackling of thorns under a pot.' ' Be not high- 
minded, but fear/ Preserve an equal temper of mind, under 
whatever treatment you meet with, from a not very just or 
well-natured world. Bear no more sail than is necessary, 
but steer steady. The less you value yourselves for these un- 
fashionable duties, (as there is no such thing as works of super- 
erogation,) the more all good and wise men will value you, 
if they see your works are all of a piece ; or, which is in- 
finitely more, He by whom actions and intentions are weighed 
will both accept, esteem, and reward you. 

" I hear my son John has the honor of being styled the 
' father of the Holy Club ;' if it be so, I am sure I must be 
the grandfather of it; and I need not say that I had rather 
any of my sons should be so dignified and distinguished, 
than to have the title of His Holiness."* 

Thus encouraged, they proceeded in their course with 
meekness and constancy : to relieve the poor, they sacrificed 
all the superfluities, and sometimes the conveniences, of life ; 
and they redoubled their efforts to produce religious impres- 
sions upon their college acquaintance, as well as upon the 
ignorant, the poor, and the sick. The apology for these 
pious and praiseworthy efforts, which, on the increase of the 
outcry made against them, Mr. Wesley published in tho 
modest form of queries, amply indicates the low state of reli- 
gious feeling in the university; and we may well conclude, 
with one of Mr. Wesley's biographers, that "a voluntary 
scheme of so much private and public good, such piety, with 
such beneficence, certainly merited a different return ; and 
if the university in general, instead of ridiculing or per- 
secuting them, had had the grace to imitate their example, 

* Whitehead's Life. 


it would have been much better both for the public and 

Even their eldest brother Samuel added his seasonable 
exhortations to perseverance, in a short but vigorous letter: — . 
"I cannot say, I thought you always in every thing right; 
but I must now say, rather than you and Charles should give 
over your whole course, especially what relates to the Castle, 
I would choose to follow either of you, nay, both of you, to 
your graves. I cannot advise you better than in the words I 
proposed for a motto to a pamphlet, 2t7)0' edpalog &g aK^uv 
rvnTOfievog' ndkov yap oBXryrov depeodat kclI vmdv. ' Stand 
thou steadfast as a beaten anvil ; for it is the part of a good 
champion to be flayed alive and to conquer/ "* 

Sickness, and cowardly desertion arising from weariness 
of the cross, some time after this, reduced the number of 
this little society of zealous young men, and the brothers 
were left to stand almost alone; but they still persevered 
with unabated zeal and diligence in their attempts to do 
good, exhibiting a rare example of decision, only to be 
accounted for by a preparing influence of God upon their 
hearts, thus training them up for still more arduous service. 
This \ was which had implanted in them those admirable 
principles that are unreservedly laid open in a letter of Mr. 
John Wesley to his brother Samuel, who had begun to 
think that they were pushing the strictness of their personal 
piety too far : 

" 1. As to the end of my being, I lay it down for a rule, 
that I cannot be too happy, or therefore too holy; and thence 
infer that the more steadily I keep my eye upon the prize 
of our high calling, and the more of my thoughts and words 
and actions are directly pointed at the attainment of it, the 
better. 2. As to the instituted means of attaining it, I like- 
wise lay it down for a rule, that I am to use them every time 
I may. 3. As to prudential means, I believe this rule holds 
of things indifferent in themselves : Whatever I know to do 
me hurt, that to me is not indifferent, but resolutely to be 
abstained from : Whatever I know to do me good, that to me 
is not indifferent, but resolutely to be embraced. "-j- 

Adverting to this charge of over-strictness, and being 

* Whitehead's Life. f Ibid. 


"righteous overmuch, " he also earnestly requests his mother 
to point out any instance in which she might judge, from 
their unreserved communications to her of every part of their 
conduct, that they were too superstitious or enthusiastic on 
the one hand, or too remiss on the other. Some anxiety had 
indeed been created at home by the singularity of their pro- 
ceedings, and the opposition they had roused at Oxford ; 
which was probably the chief reason why the father extended 
his journey from London to Oxford at the close of the year 
1731. He was, however, evidently satisfied with his personal 
observations and inquiries ; for, on his return to London, he 
writes to Mrs. "Wesley, that he had been well repaid for the 
expense and labor of his journey to Oxford, "by the shining 
piety of our two sons." 

In the midst of all this zeal, devotedness, and patience 
of reproach, when the eye of man could see nothing but a 
mature and vital Christianity, we are enabled to ascertain the 
state of Mr. Wesley's own heart, as laid open by himself. 
Speaking of a time a little subsequent to the decided impres- 
sions he had received from the reading of Bishop's Taylor's 
"Holy Living and Dying," and Mr. Law's "Serious Call," 
he says, " I was convinced more than ever of the exceeding 
height and breadth and depth of the law of God. The light 
flowed in so mightily upon my soul, that every thing appeared 
in a new view. I cried to God for help, and resolved not to 
prolong the time of obeying him as I had never done before. 
And by my continued endeavor to keep his whole law, in- 
ward and outward, to the best of my power, I was persuaded 
that I should be accepted of him ; and that I was even then 
in a state of salvation." 

He was now manifestly seeking justification before God by 
efforts at a perfect obedience to his law; nor was he then 
quite hopeless as to success. Some time afterwards, still 
clearly convinced, as he had been from the first, that he was 
not in that state of mind, that settled enjoyment of conscious 
peace with God, that love to him, delight in him, and filial 
access to him, which the New Testament describes as the 
privilege of a true believer ; but, still diligently persevering 
in the rigid practice of every discovered duty, in the hope 
of seizing the great prize by this means, he became greatly 
surprised that he was so far from obtaining it. He was often 


dull and formal in the use of the ordinances, and was on that 
account thrown " into distress and perplexity ; so that he 
seemed at a loss which way to proceed, to obtain the happi- 
ness and security he wanted."* The deep tone of feeling, 
and the earnestness of his inquiries, in the following passages 
from a letter to his mother, written in 1732, present this state 
of his mind in a very affecting light. He then needed some 
one more fully instructed in the true doctrine of salvation, 
than even this excellent and intelligent " guide of his youth/ 7 
to teach him to lay down the burden of his wounded and 
anxious spirit, in self-despair, as to his own efforts, at the foot 
of the cross of Christ. 

After mentioning Mr. Morgan, he observes : u One con- 
sideration is enough to make me assent to his and your judg- 
ment concerning the holy sacrament ; which is, that we can- 
not allow Christ's human nature to be present in it, without 
allowing either con or tran-substantiation. But that his 
Divinity is so united to us then, as he never is but to worthy 
receivers, I firmly believe; though the manner of that union 
is utterly a mystery to me. 

" That none but worthy receivers should find this effect, is 
not strange to me, when I observe how small effect many 
means of improvement have upon an unprepared mind. Mr. 
Morgan and my brother were affected, as they ought, by the 
observations you made on that glorious subject. But though 
my understanding approved what was excellent, yet my heart 
did not feel it. Why was this, but because it was pre- 
engaged by those affections with which wisdom will not 
dwell ? Because the animal mind cannot relish those truths 
which are spiritually discerned. Yet I have those writings 
which the good Spirit gave to that end ! I have many of 
those which he hath since assisted his servants to give us : I 
have retirement to apply those to my own soul daily; I have 
means both of public and private prayer; and, above all, of 
partaking in that sacrament once a week. What shall I do 
to make all these blessings effectual ? to gain from them that 
mind which was also in Christ Jesus ? 

" To all who give signs of their not being strangers to it, 
I propose this question — and why not to you rather than any ? 

* Whitehead. 


— Shall I quite break off my pursuit of all learning, but what 
immediately tends to practice ? I once desired to make a 
fair show in languages and philosophy; but it is past; there 
is a more excellent way ; and if I cannot attain to any pro- 
gress in the one, without throwing up all thoughts of the 
other, why, fare it well ! yet a little while, and we shall all 
be equal in knowledge, if we are in virtue. 

" You say you have renounced the world. And what 
have I been doing all this time ? What have I done ever 
since I was born ? Why, I have been plunging myself into 
it more and more. It is enough : Awake, thou that sleepest. 
Is there not one Lord, one Spirit, one hope of our calling ? 
one way of attaining that hope ? Then I am to renounce the 
world as well as you. That is the very thing I want to do : 
to draw off my affections from this world, and fix them on a 
better. But how? What is the surest and the shortest 
way ? Is it not to be humble ? Surely this is a large step 
in the way. But the question recurs, How am I to do this ? 
To own the necessity of it, is not to be humble. In many 
things you have interceded for me, and prevailed. W T ho 
knows but in this too you may be successful ? If you can 
spare me only that little part of Thursday evening which you 
formerly bestowed upon me in another manner, I doubt not 
but it would be as useful now, for correcting my heart, as it 
was then for forming my judgment. 

" When I observe how fast life flies away, and how slow 
improvement comes, I think one can never be too much afraid 
of dying before one has learned to live ; I mean, even in the 
course of nature. For were I sure that ' the silver cord ' 
should not be violently 'loosed;' that 'the wheel' should not 
be 'broken at the cistern,' till it was quite worn away by its 
own motion ; yet what a time would this give me for such a 
work ! a moment, to transact the business of eternity ! What 
are forty years in comparison of this? So that were I sure, 
what never man yet was sure of, how little would it alter the 
case ! How justly still might I cry out, 

' Downward I hasten to my destined place ; 
There none obtain thy aid, none sing thy praise ! 
Soon shall I lie in death's deep ocean drowned: 
Is mercy there, is sweet forgiveness found ? 


save me yet, while on the brink I stand ; 
Rebuke these storms, and set me safe on land : 
make my longings and thy mercy sure ! 
Thou art the God of power.' "* 

It was not, therefore, as it has been hastily stated, that he 
first learned from the Moravians that he was not a true Chris- 
tian. He had at Oxford a most painful conviction that he 
was far below the evangelical standard. He had then, as this 
letter sufficiently shows, a large measure of " the spirit of 
bondage unto fear;" and that after which his perplexed heart 
panted was the " Spirit of adoption," by which he might 
"cry, Abba, Father." 

During the summer of this year, 1732, Mr. Wesley visited 
London, where he formed an acquaintance with several re- 
spectable and pious persons. He also made two journeys to 
Epworth. The latter of these was in order to meet the whole 
family, which had assembled, upon the father's request, once 
more before their final separation by death. These and other 
journeys he performed on foot, partly, no doubt, to avoid 
what he considered needless expense, that he might, according 
to his rule, have the more to distribute in charity; and partly 
to adfcustom himself to fatigue and hardship. u In these 
excursions, he constantly preached on the Lord's day; so 
that he might now be called, in some degree, an itinerant 
preacher." In the following year he again visited Epworth, 
Manchester, and some other places; but his occasional ab- 
sence had a bad effect upon the still persecuted society at 
Oxford, whose members shrank from the storm, and took the 
opportunity of his being away to shake off the strictness of 
the rules. The five-and-twenty communicants at St. Mary's, 
he informs his father, had shrunk to five. Still his courage 
was unshaken, and he exerted himself the more, upon his 
return, to repair the loss. Towards the end of the year, his 
exertions of mind and body, with an excess of abstemiousness, 
seriously affected his health, and induced spitting of blood. 
His state was such as greatly to alarm his friends; but the 
vigor of his constitution triumphed ; and this attack of dis- 
ease served to impress him the more deeply with eternal 

* Whitehead's Life. 


things, and to give renewed ardor to his endeavors after uni- 
versal holiness, and to his plans for the religious benefit of 
his fellow-creatures. 

A considerable trial to his feelings now awaited hiin. The 
declining age of his father, who anxiously desired to provide 
for the spiritual wants of his parishioners in a suitable manner, 
joined with the wishes of the people of Epworth, and the 
concerns of the family, for which no provision, it seems, had 
been made, induced him to write to his son, to make interest 
for the next presentation to the living. Mr. Wesley, from 
his reluctance to leave Oxford, where he thought he should 
be far more useful, and where, according to his own convic- 
tions, he was placed in circumstances more conducive to his 
spiritual improvement, refused the proposal; and the most 
urgent letters of the different branches of the family were 
insufficient to bend his resolution. His father wrote him a 
pathetic letter, in which every consideration was urged which 
might answer his objections, or move his feelings. His 
brother had addressed him in a sterner mood, urging that he 
was not at liberty to resolve against undertaking a cure of 
souls, to which he was solemnly pledged by his ordination ; 
and ridiculed his notion that he could not, so safely to him- 
self, or so usefully to others, take the charge of a parish 
priest, as remain at Oxford. To all this he reiterates, that 
his own holiness and usefulness could be promoted nowhere 
so effectually as in his present station ; that his retirement, 
his friends, and other advantages, were essential to his im- 
provement; that he was inadequate to the charge of two 
thousand parishioners ; and that he did not consider his ordi- 
nation vows in the same light as his brother. On the last 
point, indeed, he was supported by the opinion of the bishop 
who ordained him, and whom he consulted on the question. 
These and other topics run through the correspondence, 
which, though it is not necessary to give entire, affords con- 
siderable insight into the state of Mr. Wesley's mind. His 
conduct in this matter has been criticised as unfeeling, without 
considering; that the kindness of his general character is a 
sufficient pledge that the refusal of the urgent request or a 
venerable father, and a beloved mother whose widowhood 
Would be unprovided for, must have been to him sufficiently 
painful. Dr. Southey thinks the correspondence not " cred- 


itable to his judgment ;"* but it would be bard to prove 
that the leading consideration "which influenced him — that he 
was more usefully employed in doing good at the very " foun- 
tain" from which the nation was to be so largely supplied with 
its clergy, than as a country parish priest — was not a very 
obvious truth. This conclusion, true or false, was at least a very 
plausible one, and as such concerned his conscience ; and his 
disregard of his own temporal advantage, which certainly lay 
on the side of the Epworth rectory, and his merging all con- 
siderations of the interests of the family in the higher ques- 
tion of what he regarded as a duty, might not appear instances 
of "good judgment" to worldly minds, and yet be so in 
reality. His leading reasou, drawn from his greater useful- 
ness at Oxford, being strong in itself, that he, with his wonted 
decision of character, should stand firmly upon it, will create 
no surprise; but that some of his other reasons are less 
weighty, may be granted. They show that he had more con- 
fidence in a certain class of means, to secure his religious 
safety, than in the grace of God. This was the natural effect 
of those notions of the efficacy of retirement, and self-denial, 
and ^ the wisdom of flight" from danger, which he had 
learned from Bishop Taylor; whilst the views he entertained 
of the necessity of exercising a minute personal superin- 
tendence over every individual committed to his charge, as 
being equally necessary to his own good conscience, and to 
their salvation, led him to regard a parish containing two 
thousand souls as too formidable and fearful an undertaking:. 
His religious judgment was indeed as yet immature and per- 
plexed ; but in reasoning from his own principles, his natural 
judgment showed its usual strength in the conclusions to 
which it conducted him. Whatever weakness there might be 
in the case was the result of the imperfect state of his religious 
experience, and of that dependence upon his own plans of 
attaining spirituality to which it gave rise; but connecting 
him with that great work which he was designed afterwards to 
effect, we must shut out also the doctrine of Providence, if we 
do not see a higher hand than that of man in this determina- 
tion ; a hand which is not the less certainly employed, when 
it works its ends through the secret volitions, aversions, incli- 

* Life of Wesley. 


nations, and even prejudices, of the human heart, than when 
it more sensibly and immediately interposes to hasten or retard 
our purposes. Mr. Wesley's father died in April, 1735. 
He had been manifestly ripening for bis change* and in his 
last moments had the consolation of the presence of his two 
sons, John and Charles. "He had no fear of death; and 
the peace of Gk>d which he enjoyed appeared sometimes to 
suspend his bodily sufferings, and, when they recurred, to 
sustain his mind above them. When, as nature seemed spent, 
and his speech was failing, his son John asked him whether 
he was not near heaven, he answered, ' Yes, I am/ distinctly, 
and with a voice of hope and joy. After John had used the 
commendatory prayer, he said, 'Now you have done all.' 
These were his last words ; and he passed away so peacefully 
and insensibly, that his children continued over him a con- 
siderable time in doubt whether or not the spirit was departed. 
Mrs. Wesley, who for several days, whenever she entered his 
chamber, had been carried out of it in a fit, recovered her 
fortitude now, and said her prayers were heard, for God had 
granted him an easy death, and had strengthened her to bear 
it."* Brighter views of the doctrine of faith had opened 
upon his mind, during his sickness, and shed their influence 
upon his last hours. This his sons afterwards more clearly 
understood than at the time."!" 

* Southeys Life. 

-j- la some of the biographical notices which have been published 
of this venerable man, he is represented as of a harsh and stern 
character. On this point the late Miss Wesley observes, in a MS. 
letter before me, "I never understood this from any of his children, 
who idolized his memory, and spoke of his kindness. He certainly 
never forced his daughter to marry Wright, as it has been suggested." 
In the same letter, Miss Wesley also corrects the current anecdote 
respecting the Epworth clerk and the rector's wig, which, though 
laughable enough, implicates Mr. Wesley in an irreverent act in the 
house of God, of which ho was not capable. The clerk did appear one 
Sunday, in church, in the ill-befitting, cast-off wig of his master ; and, 
to the disturbance of the gravity of the congregation, gave out the 

" Like to an owl iu ivy bush, 
That fearsome thing am I." 

But Mr. Wesley had no hand in selecting the psalm, which appears to 
have been purely accidental. 


About the middle of this year, the trustees of the new 
colony of Georgia, who wished to send out clergymen, both 
to administer to the spiritual wants of the colonists, and also 
to attempt the conversion of the Indians, directed their atten- 
tion to Mr. John Wesley, and some of his friends at Oxford, 
as peculiarly qualified, both by zeal and piety, and their habits 
of self-denial, for this service. After some delay, and con- 
sultation with his family, he accepted the offer; and thus, 
though Epworth could not draw him from Oxford, an enter- 
prise of a missionary character, and presenting no temptations 
to ease and sloth, such as he feared in a parish at home, over- 
came his scruples. This itself is in proof that he had not 
resolved to remain in Oxford, in preference to accepting the 
living of Epworth, from selfish motives. In the question 
of usefulness, the balance before inclined to Oxford ; and now 
that he thought a greater field for doing good opened in 
America, he yielded to that consideration. This mission was 
accompanied also with the certainty of great hardships and 
sufferings, which, according to his then defective but most 
sincere views, were necessary to his perfection. His resi- 
dence at Oxford now terminated ; and this portion of his life 
may be properly concluded with some passages of a letter 
written by Mr. G-ambold, a man of fine genius, as some of his 
poems show, and of eminent holiness ; who, some years after- 
wards, left the Church of England, and became a Moravian 
bishop. The letter was addressed to one of Mr. Wesley's re- 
lations, and contains a lively description of the character and 
proceedings of a friend, whom he did not then expect to see 
again on earth : 

"About the middle of March, 1730, I became acquainted 
with Mr. Charles Wesley, of Christ Church. After some 
time, he introduced me to his brother John, of Lincoln 
College. ' For he is somewhat older/ said he, ' than I am, 
and can resolve your doubts better.' I never observed any 
person have a more real deference for another than he had for 
his brother; which is the more remarkable, because such near 
relations, being equals by birth, and conscious to each other 
of all the little familiar passages of their lives, commonly 
stand too close to see the ground there may be for such sub- 
mission. Indeed, he followed his brother entirely : could I 
describe one of them, I should describe both. I shall there- 


fore say no more of Charles, but that he was a man formed 
for friendship, who, by his cheerfulness and vivacity, would 
refresh his friend's heart; with attentive consideration would 
enter into and settle all his concerns as far as he was able ; 
he would do any thing for him, great or small; and, by a 
habit of mutual openness and freedom, would leave no room 
for misunderstanding. 

" The Wesleys were already talked of for some religious 
practices, which were first occasioned by Mr. Morgan, of 
Christ Church. From these combined friends began a little 
society. Mr. John Wesley was the chief manager, for which 
he was very fit; for he had not only more learning and 
experience than the rest, but he was blessed with such activity 
as to be always gaining ground, and such steadiness that he 
lost none. What proposals he made to any were sure to 
alarm them, because he was so much in earnest; nor could 
they afterwards slight them, because they saw him always the 
same. What supported this uniform vigor was, the care he 
took to consider well every affair before he engaged in it, 
making all his decisions in the fear of Grod, without passion, 
humor, or self-confidence. For though he had naturally a 
very clear apprehension, yet his exact prudence depended 
more on his humility and singleness of heart. He had, I 
think, something of authority in his countenance, yet he never 
assumed any thing to himself above his companions ; any of 
them might speak their mind, and their words were as strictly 
regarded by him as his words were by them. 

" Their undertaking included these several particulars : to 
converse with young students; to visit the prisons; to in- 
struct some poor families; to take care of a school and a 
parish workhouse. They took great pains with the younger 
members of the university, to rescue them from bad company, 
and encourage them in a sober, studious life. They would 
get them to breakfast; and, over a dish of tea, endeavor to 
fasten some good hint upon them. They would bring them 
acquainted with other well-disposed young men, give them 
assistance in the difficult parts of their learning, and watch 
over them with the greatest tenderness. 

" Some or other of them went to the Castle every day, and 
another most commonly to Bocardo. Whoever went to the 
Castle was to read in the chapel to as many prisoners as 


would attend, and to talk apart to the man or men whom he 
had taken particularly in charge. When a new prisoner 
came, their conversation with him for four or five times was 
close and searching. If any one was under sentence of death, 
or appeared to have some intentions of a new life, they came 
every day to his assistance, and partook in the conflict and 
suspense of those who should now be found able, or not able, 
to lay hold on salvation. In order to release those who were 
confined for small debts, and to purchase books and other 
necessaries, they raised a little fund, to which many of their 
acquaintance contributed quarterly. They had prayers at the 
Castle most Wednesdays and Fridays, a sermon on Sunday, 
and the sacrament once a month. 

" W T hen they undertook any poor family, they saw them at 
least once a week; sometimes gave them money, admonished 
them of their vices, read to them, and examined their child- 
ren. The school was, I think, of Mr. Wesley's own setting 
up; however, he paid the mistress, and clothed some, if not 
all, the children. When they went thither, they inquired 
how each child behaved, saw their work, heard them read and 
say their prayers, or catechism, and explained part of it. In 
the «ame manner they taught the children in the workhouse, 
and read to the old people as they did to the prisoners. 

" They seldom took any notice of the accusations brought 
against them for their charitable employments; but if they 
did make any reply, it was commonly such a plain and simple 
one, as if there was nothing more in the case, but that they 
had just heard such doctrines of their Saviour, and had be- 
lieved, and done accordingly. 

" I could say a great deal of his private piety : how it was 
nourished by a continual recourse to God, and preserved by a 
strict watchfulness in beating down pride, and reducing the 
craftiness and impetuosity of nature to a childlike simplicity, 
and in a good degree crowned with Divine love, and victory 
over the whole set of earthly passions. He thought prayer to 
be more his business than any thing else ; and I have seen 
im come out of his closet with a serenity of countenance 

it was next to shining : it discovered what he had been 
doing, and gave me double hope of receiving wise directions, 
in the matter about which I came to consult him. In all his 
motions he attended to the will of God. He had neither the 


presumption nor the leisure to anticipate things whose season 
was not now; and would show some uneasiness whenever any 
of us, by impertinent speculations, were shifting off the ap- 
pointed improvement of the present minute. 

" Because he required such a regulation of our studies as 
might devote them all to God, he has been accused as one 
that discouraged learning. Far from that ; for the first thing 
he struck at in young men was that indolence which will not 
submit to close thinking. He earnestly recommended to them 
a method and order in all their actions. 

" If any one could have provoked him, I should; for I was 
very slow in coming into their measures, and very remiss in 
doing my part. I frequently contradicted his assertions; or, 
which is much the same, distinguished upon them. I hardly 
ever submitted to his advice at the time he gave it, though I 
relented afterwards. He is now gone to Georgia as a mis- 
sionary, where there is ignorance that aspires after Divine 
wisdom, but no false learning that is got above it. He is, I 
confess, still living; and I know that an advantageous charac- 
ter is more decently bestowed on the deceased. But, besides 
that his condition is very like that of the dead, being uncon- 
cerned in all we say, I am not making any attempt on the 
opinion of the public, but only studying a private edification. 
A family picture of him his relations may be allowed to keep 
by them. And this is the idea of Mr. Wesley, which I che- 
rish for the service of my own soul, and which I take the lib- 
erty likewise to deposit with you." * 

This letter is honorable to Mr. Gambold's friendship ; but 
he was not himself, at that time, of mature spiritual discern- 
ment, nor had Mr. Wesley opened the state of his heart to 
him with the freedom which we have seen in his letters to 
his mother. The external picture of the man is exact ; but 
he was not inwardly that perfect Christian which Mr. Gam- 
bold describes, nor had he that abiding " interior peace." 
He was struggling with inward corruptions, which made him 
still cry, " wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me 
from the body of this death ?" And he as yet put mortifica- 
tion, retirement, and contempt of the world, too much in the 
place of that Divine atonement, the virtue of which, when 

* Whitehead's Life. 



received by simple faith, at once removes the sense of guilt, 
cheers the spirit by a peaceful sense of acceptance through 
the merits of Christ, and renews the whole heart after the 
image of God. He was indeed attempting to "work out his 
own salvation with fear and trembling;" but not as knowing 
that "it is God that worketh in us to will and to do of his 
good pleasure." He had not, in this respect, learned " to be 
nothing," that he might "possess all things." 



The Wesleys on their voyage — Intercourse with the Moravians — Con- 
duct, troubles, and sufferings in Georgia — Affair of Miss Hopkey 
— Mr. Wesley returns to England. 

Mr. Wesley now prepared for Georgia, the place where, 
as he afterwards said, " God humbled me, and proved me, and 
showed me what was in my heart." But he was not suffered 
to depart without remonstrances from friends, which he an- 
swered calmly and at length, and the scoffs of the profane, to 
which he made but brief reply. " What is this, sir ?" said one 
of the latter class to him; "are you turned Quixote too? 
Will nothing serve you but to encounter windmills V To 
which he replied, "Sir, if the Bible be not true, I am as 
very a fool and madman as you can conceive; but if it be of 
God, I am sober-mi nded." 

Mr. Charles Wesley, although in opposition to the opinion 
of his brother Samuel, agreed to accompany him to Georgia, 
and received holy orders. They were accompanied by Mr. 
Ingham, of Queen's College, and Mr. Delamotte. That Mr. 
Wesley considered the sacrifices and hardships of their mis- 
sion in the light of means of religious edification to them- 
selves, as well as the means of doing good to others, is plain 
from his own account : " Our end in leaving our native 
country was not to avoid want: God had given us plenty of 
temporal blessings ; nor to gain the dung and dross of riches 
and honor; but simply this, to save our souls, to live wholly 
to the glory of God/' These observations are sufficiently in- 
dicative of that dependence upon a mortified course of life, 
and that seclusion from the temptations of the world, which 
he then thought essential to religious safety. 

Georgia is now a flourishing State, and the number of Me- 
thodist societies in it very considerable : a result not then 

42 THE lipe or 

certainly contemplated by the Wesleys, who labored there 
with little success, and quitted it almost in despair. The 
first settlers from England embarked in 1732, with Mr. James 
Oglethorpe at their head, who was also one of the trustees 
under the charter. This gentleman founded Savannah, and 
concluded a treaty with the Creek Indians. Wars with both 
Spaniards and Indians, however, subsequently arose, as well 
as domestic feuds; and in 1752 the trustees surrendered their 
charter to the king, and it was made a royal government. It 
was, therefore, in the infancy of the colony that the Wesleys 
commenced their labors. 

That they should experience trouble, vexation, and disap- 
pointment, was the natural result both of the circumstances 
in which they were placed, and their own religious habits and 
views. A small colony, and especially in its infancy, is usu- 
ally a focus of faction, discontent, and censoriousness. The 
colonists are often disappointed, uneasy in their circumstances, 
frustrated in their hopes, and impatient of authority. This 
was the case in Georgia; and although Mr. Oglethorpe, upon 
the whole, was a worthy governor, he was subject to preju- 
dices, and prone to be misled by designing men. He certainly 
did* not support the Wesleys with that steadiness and uni- 
formity which were due to them;* and, on the other hand, 
they were not faultless, although their intentions were entirely 
upright. They had high notions of clerical authority ; and 
their pastoral faithfulness was probably rigid and repulsive ; 
for, in spite of the excellence of their own natural temper, an 
austere cast had been given to their piety. They stood firmly 
on little things, as well as great; and held the reins of eccle- 
siastical discipline with a tightness unsuitable to infant colo- 
nists especially, and which tended to provoke resistance. 
Their integrity of heart, and the purity of their intentions, 
came forth without a stain ; they must also be allowed to have 
proceeded according to the best light they had; but they 
knew not yet "the love of Christ," nor how to sway men's 
hearts by that all-commanding and controlling motive ; and 

* Oglethorpe's good opinion of the brothers was, however, shown 
by his anxiety to persuade Charles to return again to the colony, after 
he had visited England ; and by the marked respect and even rever- 
ence with which at a subsequent period he treated John. 


they aimed at making men Christians, in the manner they 
sought that great attainment themselves, by a rigid and ascetic 

On their passage, an exact plan for the employment of time 
was arranged, and observed ; but the voyage is most remarka- 
ble for bringing Mr. Wesley acquainted with the members of 
the Moravian Church ; for, among the settlers taken out, were 
twenty-six Germans of this communion. Mr. Wesley imme- 
diately began to learn German, in order to converse with 
them ; and David Nitschman, the Moravian bishop, and two 
others, received lessons in English. On the passage they had 
several storms, in which Mr. Wesley felt that the fear of 
death had not been taken away from him, and concluded, 
therefore, that he was not fit to die; on the contrary, he 
greatly admired the absence of all slavish dread in the Ger- 
mans. He says, " I had long before observed the great seri- 
ousness of their behavior. Of their humility they had given 
a continual proof, by performing those servile offices for the 
other passengers which none of the English would undertake ; 
for which they desired and would receive no pay; saying it 
was 'good for their proud hearts, and their loving Saviour had 
done more for them/ And every day had given them occa- 
sion of showing a meekness which no injury could move. If 
they were pushed, struck, or thrown down, they rose again 
and went away; but no complaint was found in their mouth. 
There was now an opportunity of trying whether they were 
delivered from the spirit of fear, as well as from that of pride, 
anger, and revenge. In the midst of the psalm wherewith 
their service began, the sea broke over, split the main-sail in 
pieces, covered the ship, and poured in between the decks, as 
if the great deep had already swallowed us up. A terrible 
screaming began among the English. The Germans calmly 
sang on. I asked one of them afterwards, 'Was you not 
afraid?' He answered, 'I thank God, no.' I asked, 'But 
were not your women and children afraid V He replied, 
mildly, 'No ; our women and children are not afraid to die/ "* 

Thus he had the first glimpse of a religious experience 
which keeps the mind at peace in all circumstances, and van- 
quishes that feeling which a formal and defective religion may 

* Journal. 


lull to temporary sleep, but cannot eradicate — "the fear of 

They landed on the 6th of February, 1736, on a small 
uninhabited island ; from whence Mr. Oglethorpe proceeded 
to Savannah, and returned the next day, bringing with him 
Mr. Spangenberg, one of the Moravian pastors, already set- 
tled there. 

"I soon found/' says Mr. Wesley, "what spirit he was of: 
and asked his advice with regard to my own conduct. He 
said, 'My brother, I must first ask you one or two questions. 
Have you the witness within yourself? Does the Spirit of 
God bear witness with your spirit that you are a child of 
God V I was surprised, and knew not what to answer. He 
observed it, and asked, 'Do you know Jesus Christ?' I 
paused, and said, 'I know he is the Saviour of the world.' 
'True/ replied he ; ' but do you know he has saved you ?' I 
answered, 'I hope he has died to save me.' He only added, 
'Do you know yourself?' I said, 'I do.' But I fear they 
were vain words."* 

Mr. Charles Wesley took charge of Frederica, and Mr. John 
of Savannah, where, the house not being ready, he took up 
his Residence with the Germans, with whose spirit and conduct 
he became still more favorably impressed, and whose mode of 
proceeding in the election and ordination of a bishop carried 
him back, he says, to those primitive times "where form and 
state were not ; but Paul the tent-maker, and Peter the fisher- 
man, presided; yet with demonstration of the Spirit and 

Mr. Wesley had not been long at Savannah before he heard 
from Charles of his troubles and opposition at Frederica. His 
presence among the licentious colonists, and the frequent re- 
proofs he administered, made him an object of great hatred; 
and " plots were formed, either to ruin him in the opinion of 
Oglethorpe, or to take him off by violence."f Oglethorpe 
was for a time successfully practiced upon, treated him with 
coldness, and left him to endure the greatest privations. He 
lay upon the ground in the corner of a hut, and was denied 
the luxury of a few boards for a bed. He was out of favor 
with the governor; even the servants on that account insulted 

* Journal. f Whitehead's Life. 


him; and, worn-out with vexation and hardships, he fell into 
a dangerous fever. In this state he was visited by his brother 
John, who prevailed upon him to break a resolution which 
" honor and indignation" had induced him to form, of "starv- 
ing rather than ask for necessaries." Soon after this, Mr. 
Oglethorpe discovered the plots of which he had been the 
victim, and was fully reconciled to him. He then took charge 
of Savannah, whilst John supplied his place at Frederica; 
and in July, 1736, he was sent to England, charged with dis- 
patches from Mr. Oglethorpe to the trustees and the Board 
of Trade, and in December arrived at Deal; thus terminating 
a service in which he had preached with great fidelity and 
zeal, but had met with very unworthy returns. 

Of the two places, Savannah appears to have been more 
hopeful than Frederica; and as Mr. John Wesley did not find 
the door open for preaching to the Indians, he consulted with 
his companions, in what manner they might be most useful to 
the flock at Savannah. It was agreed, 1. To advise the more 
serious among them to form themselves into a little society, 
and to meet once or twice a week, in order to reprove, instruct, 
and exhort one another. 2. To select out of these a smaller 
number for a more intimate union with each other; which 
might be forwarded partly by their conversing singly with 
each, and inviting them all together to Mr. -Wesley's house; 
and this accordingly they determined to do every Sunday in 
the afternoon. u Here," says Dr. Whitehead, '* we see the first 
rudiments of the future economy of classes and bands."* 

In this respect he probably learned something from the 
Moravians, and the whole plan fell in with his previous views 
of discipline and method. The character of his mind was 
eminently practical; he was in earnest, and he valued things 
just as they appeared to be adapted to promote the edification 

* There was, however, nothing new in this. Mr. Wesley had doubt- 
less heard, in his visits to London, of tiie religious societies described 
by Dr. Woodward, which were encouraged by the more serious clergy, 
and held weekly private meetings for religious edification. It is 
probable that he had even attended such meetings in the metropolis. 
Wherever, indeed, a revival of serious religion lias taken place, and 
ministers have been in earnest to promote it, we see similar means 
adopted, as by Baxter at Kidderminster, during his eminently suc- 
cessful ministry there. 


and salvation of those committed to his charge. A school 
was also established; and the children regularly catechized 
by Mr. Wesley, both in private and in the church. Evening 
meetino-s for the more serious were also held at his house; so 
actively did he apply himself, not only to the public services 
of the sanctuary, but to every kind of engagement by which 
he might make "full proof of his ministry/' The religious 
state of his own mind, however, remained much the same. 
He saw another striking instance of the power of faith, in the 
peaceful and edifying death of one of the Moravians; and 
had another proof that he himself was not saved from " the 
fear which hath torment," in a severe storm of thunder and 
lightning:. Both indicated to him that he had not attained 
the state of " the sons of God ;" but his views were still per- 
plexed and obscure. From a conversation which he had with 
some Indians who had visited Savannah, he concluded that 
the way was opened for him to preach among the Choctaws, 
and this he was desirous of attempting; but, as Savannah 
would have been left without a minister, the governor ob- 
jected ; and his friends were also of opinion that he could not 
then be spared from the colony. 

In «his visits to Frederica he met with great opposition and 
much illiberal abuse : in Savannah he was, however, rapidly 
gaining influence, when a circumstance occurred which issued 
in his departure from Georgia altogether. He had formed an 
attachment to an accomplished young lady, a Miss Hopkey,* 
niece to the wife of Mr. Causton, the chief magistrate of 
Savannah, which she appears to have returned, or at least 
encouraged. The biographers of Mr. Wesley, Dr. White- 
head and Mr. Moore, differ as to the fact whether this con- 
nection was broken off by him, or by the lady herself in con- 
sequence of his delays. The latter professes to have received 
the whole account from Mr. Wesley, and must therefore be 
presumed to be the best authority. From his statement it 
appears that Mr. Delamotte suspected the sincerity of the 
lady's pretensions to piety ; and thought his friend Mr. Wes- 
ley, whose confiding and unsuspecting heart prevented him at 
all times from being a severe-judge of others, was likely to be 
the victim of artifices which he had not the skill or the in- 

* Incorrectly called Miss Causton by Mr. Wesley's biographers. 


clination to discern. His remonstrances led Mr. Wesley to 
refer the question of his marriage with Miss Hopkey to the 
judgment of the elders of the Moravian Church, which he 
thought he was at liberty to do, since the acquaintance, 
though it had ripened into regard and thoughts of marriage, 
'had not, it seems, proceeded to any thing, determinate. The 
Moravians advised him to proceed no farther; and his con- 
duct towards Miss Hopkey became cautious and distant, very 
naturally to her mortification, and perhaps pain. An entry in 
his journal shows that he had a considerable struggle with his 
own feelings, and that his sense of duty had exacted a great 
sacrifice from his heart. The lady soon afterwards married a 
Mr. Williamson ; but a hostile feeling towards him had been 
left in the minds of her friends, which the gossiping and cen- 
sorious habits of a small colony would not fail to keep alive. 
Though Mr. Wesley did not certainly see her married to an- 
other with perfect philosophy, it was not in his generous 
nature to allow his former affection to turn into resentment, 
which was the fault subsequently charged upon hirn ; and as 
he soon saw many things in her to reprove, it is probable that 
he thought his escape a fortunate one. Perhaps, considering 
the singularity of his habits at that time, it was well for the 
lady also ; which seems, indeed, jocosely intimated in a pas- 
sage of a letter of his brother Samuel to him on this occasion : 
" I am sorry you are disappointed in one match, because you 
are unlikely to find another." 

An opportunity for the manifestation of the secret prejudice 
which had been nourished by the friends of the niece of Mrs. 
Causton was afforded in about five months after her marriage. 
Mr. Wesley adhered to the rubric of the Church of England 
as to the administration of the sacrament, without respect 
of persons, and with a rigidness which was not at all common. 
He repelled those whom he thought unworthy; and when 
any one had neglected the ordinance, he required him to sig- 
nify his name the day before he intended to communicate 
again. Some time after Mrs. Williamson's marriage, he dis- 
covered several things which he thought blamable in her con- 
duct. These, as she continued to communicate, he mentioned 
to her, and she in return became angry. For reasons, there- 
fore, which he stated to her in a letter, he repelled her from 
the communion. This letter was written by desire of Mr. 


Causton, who wished to'have his reasons for repelling his niece 
in writing : 

"At Mr. Causton's request I write once more. The rules 
whereby I proceed are these : ' So many as intend to partake 
of the holy communion shall signify their names to .the 
curate, at least some time the day before/ This you did 
not do. 

" 'And if any of these — have done any wrong to his 
neighbor, by word or deed, so that the congregation be there- 
by offended, the curate shall advertise him, that in anywise 
he presume not to come to the Lord's table until he hath 
openly declared himself to have truly repented/ 

" If you offer yourself at the Lord's table on Sunday, I 
will advertise you, as I have done more than once, wherein 
you have done wrong; and when you have openly declared 
yourself to have truly repented, I will administer to you the 
mysteries of God/' * 

The storm now broke forth upon him. A warrant was 
issued, and he was brought before the recorder and magis- 
trates, on the charges of Mr. Williamson, 1. That he had 
defamed his wife. 2. That he had causelessly repelled her 
from the holy communion. Mr. Wesley denied the first 
charge ; and the second being wholly ecclesiastical, he would 
not acknowledge the authority of the magistrate to decide 
upon it. He was, however, told that he must appear before 
the next court, holden at Savannah. 

The Causton family became now most active in their 
efforts to injure him. By them, the reason why Mr. Wesley 
had repelled Mrs. Williamson from the Lord's table was 
stated to be his resentment against her for having refused to 
marry him ; which they knew to be contrary to the fact. 
Garbled extracts of his letters were read by Causton to those 
whom he could collect to hear them, probably in order to con- 
firm this; and Mrs. Williamson was prevailed upon to swear 
to and sign a paper containing assertions and insinuations in- 
jurious to his character. j" 

The calm courage of the man who was thus so violently and 
unjustly persecuted, was not, however, to be shaken. 

"I sat still at home," says Mr. Wesley, "and, I thank God, 

* Journal. f Ibid. 


easy, having committed my cause to him, and rememhered 
his word, ' Blessed is the man that endureth temptation ; for 
when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the 
Lord hath promised to them that love him/ "* 

As the sitting of the court drew near, Causton used every 
art to influence the grand jury; and, when they met, gave 
them "a long and earnest charge, 'to beware of spiritual 
tyranny, and to oppose the new illegal authority which was 
usurped over their consciences.' Mrs. Williamson's affidavit 
was read ; and he then delivered to them a paper, entitled, 'A 
List of Grievances, presented by the grand jury for Savan- 
nah, this day of August, 1737 ' In the afternoon, Mrs. 

Williamson was examined, who acknowledged that she had 
no objections to make against Mr. Wesley's conduct before 
her marriage. The next day, Mr. and Mrs. Causton wero 
also examined, when she confessed that it was by her request 
Mr. Wesley had written to Mrs. Williamson on the 5th 
of July. And Mr. Causton declared, that if Mr. Wesley had 
asked his consent to have married his niece, he should not 
have refused it. The grand jury continued to examine these 
ecclesiastical grievances, which occasioned warm debates till 
Thursday; when Mr. Causton, being informed they had 
entered on matters beyond his instructions, went to them, and 
behaved in such a manner, that he turned forty-two, out of 
the forty-four, into a fixed resolution to inquire into his whole 
behavior. They immediately entered on that business, and 
coutinued examining witnesses all day on Friday. On Satur- 
day, Mr. Causton, finding all his efforts to stop them in- 
effectual, adjourned the court till Thursday, the first of 
September, and spared no pains, in the meantime, to bring 
them to another mind. September 1. He so far prevailed, 
that the majority of the grand jury returned the list of 
grievances to the court, in some particulars altered, under the 
form of two presentments, containing ten bills, only two of 
which related to the affair of Mrs. Williamson ; and only one 
of these was cognizable by that court, the rest being merely 
ecclesiastical. September 2. Mr. Wesley addressed the court 
to this effect: 'As to nine of the ten indictments against me, 
I know this court can take no cognizance of them ; they be- 

* Journal. 


ing matters of an ecclesiastical nature, and this not an eccle- 
siastical court. But the tenth, concerning my speaking and 
writino- to Mrs. Williamson, is of a secular nature; and this, 
therefore, I desire may be tried here, where the facts com- 
plained of were committed. ' Little answer was made, and 
that purely evasive. 

"In the afternoon he moved the court again for an imme- 
diate trial at Savannah; adding, 'that those who are offended 
may clearly see whether I have done any wrong to any one ; 
or whether I have not rather deserved the thanks of Mrs. 
Williamson, Mr. Causton, and of the whole family.' Mr. 
Causton's answer was full of civility and respect. He observed,, 
1 Perhaps things would not have been carried so far, had you 
not said, you believed if Mr. Causton appeared, the people 
would tear him to pieces; not so much out of love to you, as 
out of hatred to him for his abominable practices/ If Mr. 
Wesley really spake these words, he was certainly very impru- 
dent, considering the circumstances in which he was placed. 
But we too often find in disputes, that the constructions of others 
on what has been said are reported as the very words we have 
spoken ; which I suspect to have been the case here. Mr. 
Causton, however, sufficiently discovered the motives that 
influenced his conduct in this business. 

" Twelve of the grand jurors now drew up a protest against 
the proceedings of the majority, to be immediately sent to 
the trustees in England. In this paper they gave such clear 
and satisfactory reasons, under every bill, for their dissent 
from the majority, as effectually did away all just ground of 
complaint against Mr. Wesley, on the subjects of the prose- 
cution. "* 

"He attended the court holden on November the third; 
and again at the court held on the twenty-third; urging an 
immediate hearing of his case, that he might have an oppor- 
tunity of answering the allegations preferred against him. But 
this the magistrates refused, and at the same time counte- 
nanced every report to his disadvantage; whether it was a 
mere invention, or founded on a malicious construction of any 
thing he did or said. Mr. Wesley perceiving that he had 
not the most distant prospect of obtaining justice ; that he 

* Whitehead's Life. 


was in a place where those in power were combined together 
to oppress him, and could any day procure evidence (as expe- 
rience had shown) of words he had never spoken, and of 
actions he had never done ; being- disappointed, too, in the 
primary object of his mission, preaching to the Indians; he 
consulted his friends what he ought to do; who were of 
opinion with him, that by these circumstances Providence did 
now call him to leave Savannah. The next day he called on 
Mr. Causton, and told him he designed to set out for England 

The magistrates made a show of forbidding him to leave 
the colony; but he embarked openly, after having publicly 
advertised his intention, no man interposing to prevent him ; 
one leading object of these persecutions being to drive him 
away. His sermons had been too faithful, and his reproofs 
too poignant, to make his continuance desirable to the majority 
of an irreligious colony. 

The root of all this opposition, no doubt, lay in the enmity 
of his hearers to truth and holiness ; but its manifestation 
might be occasioned in part by the strictness with which he 
acted upon obsolete branches of ecclesiastical discipline, and 
the unbending manner in which he insisted upon his spiritual 
authority. In the affair of Mrs. Williamson, he stands per- 
fectly exculpated from the base motives which his enemies 
charged upon him ; but, in the first stages, it neither appears 
to have been managed with prudence, nor a proper degree of 
Christian courtesy. His enemies have sneered at his decla- 
ration, that, after he left Georgia, he discovered that he who 
went out to teach others Christianity was not a Christian him- 
self. But had he been a Christian in that full, evangelical 
sense, which he meant ; had he been that which he afterwards 
became, not only would the exclusion of Mrs. Williamson 
from the sacrament have been effected in another manner, but 
his mission to Georgia would probably have had a very differ- 
ent result. His preaching was defective in that one great 
point, which gives to preaching its real power over the heart, 
"Christ crucified;" and his spirit, although naturally frank 
and amiable, was not regenerated by that "power from on 

* Whitehead's Life. 


high," the first and leading fruits of which are meekness and 

In the midst of his trials, Mr. Wesley received very con- 
solatory letters from his friends, both in England and in 
America; and there were many in Georgia itself who rightly 
estimated the character and the labors of a man who held 
five or six public services on the Lord's day, in English, 
Italian, and French, for the benefit of a mixed population; 
who spent his whole time in works of piety and mercy; and 
who distributed his income so profusely in charity, that, for 
many months together, he had not "one shilling in the 
house." His health, whilst in America, continued good; 
and it is in proof of the natural vigor of his constitution, 
that he exposed himself to every change of season, frequently 
slept on the ground, under the dews of the night in summer, 
and in winter with his hair and clothes frozen to the earth. 
He arrived in London, February 3d, 1738, and, notwith- 
standing his many exercises, reviewed the result ot his Ame- 
rican labors with some satisfaction : " Many reasons I have 
to bless God for my having been carried into that strange 
land contrary to all my preceding resolutions. Hereby, I 
trusty he hath in some measure ' humbled me, and proved me, 
and shown me what was in my heart.' Hereby I have been 
taught to ' beware of men.' Hereby God has given me to 
know many of his servants, particularly those of the Church 
of Hernhuth. Hereby my passage is open to the writings 
of holy men, in the German, Spanish, and Italian tongues. 
All in Georgia have heard the word of God; some have 
believed, and begun to run well. A few steps have been 
taken towards publishing the glad tidings, both to the African 
and American heathens. Many children have learned ' how 
they ought to serve God/ and to be useful to their neighbor. 
And those whom it most concerns have an opportunity of 
knowing the state of their infant colony, and laying a firmer 
foundation of peace and happiness to many generations." 



Mr. Wesley's review of his religious experience — -Trouble of mind — 
Interview with Peter Bonier— Receives the doctrine of justifica- 
tion by faith — Preaches it — Mr. Charles Wesley's religious expe- 
rience — Remarks. 

The solemn review which Mr. Wesley made of the state 
of his religious experience, both on his voyage home and soon 
after his landing in England, deserves to be particularly no- 
ticed, both for general instruction, and because it stands in 
immediate connection with a point which has especially per- 
plexed those who have attributed his charges against himself, 
as to the deficiency of his Christianity at this period, to a 
strange and fanatical fancy. By the most infallible of proofs, 
he tells us — that of his feelings — he was convinced of his 
having " no such faith in Christ" as prevented his heart from 
being troubled ; and he earnestly prays to be " saved by such 
a faith as implies peace in life and death." " I went to 
America to convert the Indians ; but 0, who shall convert 
me ? Who is he that will deliver me from this evil heart 
of unbelief? I have a fair summer religion : I can talk well, 
nay, and believe myself, while no danger is present; but let 
death look me in the face, and my spirit is troubled ; nor can 
I say, l To die is gain.' 

' I have a sin of fear, that when I 've spun 

My last thread, I shall perish on the shore.' "* 

[* This quotation is from Dr. Donne's " Hymn to God the Father." 
As it is somewhat of a curiosity, and as it illustrates the tone of Mr. 


He thought, therefore, that a faith was attainable which 
should deliver him entirely from guilty dread, and fill him 
with peace; but of this faith itself his notions were still con- 
fused. He manifestly regarded it, generally, as a principle 
of belief in the gospel, which, by quickening his efforts to 
self-mortification and entire obedience, would raise him, 
through a renewed state of heart, into acceptance and peace 
with Grod. This error is common. It regards faith, not so 
much as the personal trust of a guilty and helpless sinner 
upon Christ for salvation and all the gifts of spiritual life, but 
as working out sanctifying effects in the heart and life, partly 
by natural, partly by supernatural process, and thus producing 
peace of conscience. But he goes on with this interesting 
history of his heart. 

" I was early warned against laying too much stress on 
outward works, as the Papists do, or on a faith without works, 
which, as it does not include, so it will never lead to, true 
hope or charity."* 

Here he manifestly confounds the faith by which a man is 
justified, which certainly does not " include" in itself the 

W°%ley's experience, as brought to view in the text, it is here sub- 
joined.— T. 0. S.] 



Wilt thou forgive that sin where I begun, 
Which was my sin. though it were done before? 

Wilt thou forgive that sin through which I run, 
And do run still, though still I do deplore ? 

When thou hast done thou hast not done, 
For I have more. 


Wilt thou forgive that sin which I hav^ won 

Others to sin, and made my sins their door? 
Wilt thou forgive that sin which I did shun 

A year or two, but wallowed in a score ? 
When thou hast done thou hast not done, 

For I have more. 


I have a sin of fear, that when I've spun 

My last thread, I shall perish on the shore ; 
But swear by thyself that at my death thy Son 

Shall shine as he shines now and heretofore; 
And having done that thou hast done, 

I fear no more. 

* Journal. 


moral effects of which he speaks, with the faith of a man who 
is in a justified state, which necessarily produces them because 
of that vital union into which it brings him with Christ his 
Saviour, by whom he is saved from the power and love, as 
well as from the guilt, of sin. 

" I fell among some Lutheran and Calvinist authors, whose 
confused and indigested accounts magnified faith to such an 
amazing size, that it quite hid all the rest of the command- 

This is perhaps a proof that he did not understand these 
writers, any more than he did the Moravians in Georgia, who 
failed to enlighten him on the subject of faith, although he 
saw that they, in fact, possessed a " peace through believing/' 
which he had not, and yet painfully felt to be necessary. 
The writers he mentions probably represented faith only as 
necessary to justification ; whilst he conceived them to teach 
that faith only is necessary to final salvation. 

" The English writers, such as Bishop Beveridge, Bishop 
Taylor, and Mr. Nelson, a little relieved me from these well- 
meaning, wrong-headed Germans. Their accounts of Chris- 
tianity I could easily see to be, in the main, consistent both 
with reason and Scripture." "j" 

Beveridge would have met his case more fully than either 
Taylor or Nelson, had he been in a state of mind to compre- 
hend him ; ana} still better would he have been instructed by 
studying, with as much care as he examined Taylor and Law, 
the Homilies of his own Church, and the works of her older 

The writings of the Fathers then promised to give him 
further satisfaction ; but to them he at length took various 
exceptions. He finally resorted to the Mystic writers, " whose 
noble descriptions of union with God, and internal religion, 
made every thing else appear mean, flat, and insipid. But 
iu truth they made good works appear so too, yea, and faith 
itself, and what not? These gave me an entire new view of 
religion, nothing like any I had before. But, alas ! it was 
nothing like that religion which Christ and his apostles lived 
and taught. I had a plenary dispensation from all the com- 
mands of God. The form ran thus : ' Love is all : all the 

* Journal. f Ibid. 


commands beside are only means of love : you must choose 
those which you feel are means to you, and use them as long- 
as they are so.' Thus were all the bands burst at once. And 
though I could never fully come into this, nor contentedly 
omit what God enjoined, yet, I know not how, I fluctuated 
between obedience and disobedience. I had no heart, no 
vigor, no zeal in obeying, continually doubting whether I was 
right or wrong, and never out of perplexities and entangle- 
ments. Nor can I at this hour give a distinct account how or 
when I came a little back toward the right way ; only my pre- 
sent sense is this : All the other enemies of Christianity are 
triflers : the Mystics are the most dangerous of its enemies : 
they stab it in the vitals; and its most serious professors are 
most likely to fall by them. May I praise Him who hath 
snatched me out of this fire likewise, by warning all others 
that it is set on fire of hell !"* 

He was, however, delivered from the errors of the Mystics, 
only to be brought back to the point from which he set out ; 
but his humble conclusion from the whole shows that the end 
of this long and painful struggle was about to be accom- 
plished : he was now brought fully to feel and confess his 
utter helplessness, and was not " far from the kingdom of 

"And now," says he, " it is upwards of two years since I 
left my native country, in order to teach the Georgia Indians 
the nature of Christianity; but what have I learned myself 
in the mean time? Why, (what I least of all suspected,) that 
I, who went to America to convert others, was never .con- 
verted myself. ' I am not mad/ though I thus speak ; but 
' speak the words of truth and soberness/ if haply some of 
those who still dream may awake, and see that as I am, so 
are they. 

"Are they read in philosophy ? So was I. In ancient or 
modern tongues? So was I also. Are they versed in the 
science of divinity? I, too, have studied it many years. Can 
they talk fluently upon spiritual things ? The very same I 
could do. Are they plenteous in alms? Behold, I give all 
my goods to feed the poor. 

"Do they give of their labor as well as their substance? 

* Journal. 


I have labored more abundantly than they all. Are they 
willing to suffer for their brethren ? I have thrown up my 
friends, reputation, ease, country: I have put my life in my 
hand, wandering into strange lands : I have given my body to 
be devoured by the deep, parched up with heat, consumed by 
toil and weariness, or whatsoever God shall please to bring 
upon me. But does all this (be it more or less, it matters 
not) make me acceptable to God ? Does all I ever did or 
can know, say, give, do, or suffer, justify me in his sight ? 
yea, or the constant use of all the means of grace? (which, 
nevertheless, is meet, right, and our bounden duty;) or that 
I know nothing of myself — that I am, as touching outward, 
moral righteousness, blameless ? or, to come closer yet, the 
having a rational conviction of all the truths of Christianity ? 
Does all this give a claim to the holy, heavenly, divine char- 
acter of a Christian ? By no means. If the oracles of God 
are true, if we are still to abide by 'the law and the tes- 
timony/ all these things, though, when ennobled by faith in 
Christ, they are ' holy, and just, and good/ yet without it are 
' dung and dross/ 

"This then have I learned in the ends of the earth, that I 
am ' fallen short of the glory of God / that my whole heart 
is ' altogether corrupt and abominable/ and, consequently, my 
whole life ; (seeing it cannot be that ' an evil tree' should 
'bring forth good fruit/) that my own works, my own suffer- 
ings, my own righteousness, are so far from reconciling me to 
an offended God, so far from making any atonement for the 
least of those sins which 'are more in number than the hairs 
of my head/ that the most specious of them need an atone- 
ment themselves, or they cannot abide his righteous judg- 
ment ; that having the sentence of death in my heart, and 
having nothing in or of myself to plead, I have no hope but 
that of being justified freely 'through the redemption that is 
in Jesus/ I have no hope, but that if I seek I shall find the 
Christ, and 'be found in him/not having my own righteous- 
ness, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the right- 
eousness which is of God by faith.' 

"If it be said that I have faith, (for many such things have 
I heard from many miserable comforters,) I answer, So have 
the devils — a sort of faith ; but still they are strangers to the 
covenant of nromise. So the apostles had even at Cana in 


Galilee, when Jesus" first ' manifested forth his glory;', even 
then they, in a sort, 'believed on him ;' but they had not then 
'the faith that overcometh the world.' The faith I want is 
' a sure trust and confidence in God, that, through the merits 
of Christ, my sins are forgiven, and I reconciled to the favor 
of God.' I want that faith which St. Paul recommends to all 
the world, especially in his Epistle to the Romans, that faith 
which enables every one that hath it to cry out, 'I live not; 
but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live, I live 
by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself 
for me.' I want that faith which none has without knowing 
that he hath it; '(though many imagine they have it who have 
it not;) for whosoever hath it is freed from sin; the whole 
' body of sin is destroyed' in him ; he is freed from fear, 
' having peace with God through Christ, and rejoicing in hope 
of the glory of God.' And he is freed from doubt, having 
the love of God shed abroad in his heart, through the Holy 
Ghost which is given unto him ; which Spirit itself beareth 
witness with his spirit that he is a child of God.'"* 

A spirit thus breathing after God, and anxious to be taught 
"the way of God more perfectly," could not be left in its 
darkness and solicitude. A few days after his arrival in Lon- 
don*, he met with Peter Bohler, a minister of the Moravian 
Church. This was on February 7th, which he marks as " a 
day much to be remembered," because the conversation which 
he had with Bohler on the subject of saving faith, a sub- 
ject probably brought on by himself, first opened his mind to 
true views on that subject, notwithstanding the objections 
with which he assaulted the statements of the Moravian 
teacher, and which caused Bohler more than once to exclaim, 
" My brother, that philosophy of yours must be purged away." 
At Oxford, whither he had gone to visit Charles, who was 
sick, he again met with his Moravian friend ; " by whom," he 
says, " in the hand of the great God, I was clearly convinced 
of unbelief, of the want of that faith whereby alone we are 
saved with the full Christian salvation." 

"He was now convinced that his faith had been too much 
separated from an evangelical view of the promises of a free 
justification, or pardon of sin, through the atonement and 

* Journal. 


mediation of Christ alone, which was the reason why he had 
been held in continual bondage and fear/'* In a few days 
he met Peter Bohler again, "who now," he says, "amazed 
me more and more, by the account he gave of the fruits of 
living faith, the holiness and happiness which he affirmed to 
attend it. The next morning I began the Greek Testament 
again, resolving to abide by ' the law and the testimony/ 
being confident that God would hereby show me whether this 
doctrine was of God/'j" 

In a fourth conversation with this excellent man, he was 
still more confirmed in the view " that faith is," to use the 
words of our Church, " a sure trust and confidence which 
man has in God, that, through the merit of Christ, his sins 
are forgiven, and he reconciled to the favor of God." Some 
of his objections to Bbhler's statements on instantaneous con- 
version were also removed by a diligent examination of the 
Scriptures. " I had," he observes, " but one retreat left on 
this subject : thus, I grant, God wrought in the first ages of 
Christianity ; but the times are changed. What reason have 
I to believe he works in the same manner now ? But, on 
Sunday, 22d, I was beat out of this retreat, too, by the con- 
curring evidence of several living witnesses, who testified God 
had so wrought in themselves, giving them, in a moment, 
such a faith in the blood of his Son as translated them out of 
darkness into light, and from sin and fear into holiness and 
happiness. Here ended my . disputing. I could now only 
cry out, i Lord, help thou my unbelief !' " 

He now began to declare that doctrine of faith which he 
had been taught ; and those who were convinced of sin gladly 
received it. He was also much confirmed in the truth by 
hearing the experience of Mr. Hutchins, of Pembroke Col- 
lege, and Mrs. Fox : " Two living witnesses," he says, " that 
God can, at least, if he does not always, give that faith where- 
of cometh salvation, in a moment, as lightning falling from 

Mr. Wesley and a few others now formed themselves into 
a religious society, which met in Fetter-lane. But although 
they thus assembled with the Moravians, they remained mem- 
bers of the Church of England; and afterwards, when some 

* Whitehead's Life. f Journal. % Ibid. 


of the Moravian teachers introduced new doctrines, Mr. Wes- 
ley and his friends separated from them, and formed that 
distinct community which has since been known as "The 
Methodist Society.*'- The rules of the Fetter-lane society 
were printed under the title of ''Orders of a Religious 
Society, meeting in Fetter-lane; in obedience to the com- 
mand of God by St. James, and by the advice of Peter 
Bohler. 1738/' 

As yet Mr. Wesley had not attained the blessing for which 
he so earnestly sought, and now with clearer views. His lan- 
guage as to himself,' though still that of complaint, was be- 
come, in truth, the language of a broken and a contrite heart. 
It was no longer in the tone of a man disappointed as to the 
results of his own efforts, and thrown into distressing per- 
plexity, as not knowing where to turn for help. He was now 
bowed in lowly sorrow before the throne ; but he knew that 
it was " the throne of graxe ;" and his cry was that of the 
publican, "God be merciful to me a sinner !" In a letter to 
a friend, he says : 

"I feel what you say, though not enough ; for I am under 
the same condemnation. I see that the whole law of God is 
holy, just, and good. I know every thought, every temper 
of my soul, ought to bear God's image and superscription. 
But how am I fallen from the glory of God ! I feel that ' I 
am sold under sin.' I know that I, too, deserve nothing but 
wrath, being full of all abominations, and having no good 
thing in me to atone for them, or to remove the wrath of God. 
All my works, my righteousness, my prayers, need an atone- 
ment for themselves. So that my mouth is stopped. I have 
nothing to plead. God is holy : I am unholy. God is a 
consuming fire : I am altogether a sinner, meet to be con- 

"Yet I hear a voice, (and is it not the voice of God ?) say- 
ing, 'Believe, and thou shalt be saved. He that believeth is 
passed from death unto life. God so loved the world, that he 
gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him 
should not perish, but have everlasting life.'"* 

In this state of mind he continued till May the 24th 

* Journal. 


1738, and then gives the following account of his conver- 
sion : 

"I think it was about five this morning that I opened my 
Testament on those words, 'There are given unto us exceed- 
ing great and precious promises, that by these ye might be 
partakers of the Divine nature/ (2 Peter i. 4.) Just as I 
went out, I opened it again on these words, 'Thou art not far 
from the kingdom of Grod.' In the afternoon 1 was asked to 
go to St. Paul's. The anthem was, ' Out of the deep have I 
called unto thee, Lord : Lord, hear my voice. let thine 
ears consider well the voice of my complaint. If thou, Lord, 
wilt be extreme to mark what is done amiss, Lord, who 
may abide it ? But there is mercy with thee ; therefore thou 
shalt be feared. Israel, trust in the Lord; for with the 
Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption. 
And he shall redeem Israel from all his sins/ 

" In. the evening I went, very unwillingly, to a society in 
Aldersgate street, where one "was reading Luther's preface to 
the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, 
while he was describing the change which God works in the 
heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely 
warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salva- 
tion ; and an assurance was given me that he had taken away 
my sins, even mine, and saved me from the ' law of sin and 

" I began to pray with all my might for those who had in 
a more especial manner despitefully used me and persecuted 
me. I then testified openly to all there what I now first felt 
in my heart. But it was not long before the enemy suggested, 
'This cannot be faith, for where is thy joy?' Then was I 
taught that peace and victory over sin are essential to faith in 
the Captain of our salvation ; but that, as to the transports 
of joy that usually attend the beginning of it, especially in 
those who have mourned deeply, God sometimes giveth, some- 
times withholdeth them, according to the counsel of his own 

After this, he had some struggles with doubt; but he pro- 
ceeded from "strength to strength," till he could say, "Now 
I was always conqueror." His experience, nurtured by ha- 

* Journal. 


bitual prayer, and 'deepened by unwearied exertion in the 
cause of his Saviour, settled into that steadfast faith and solid 
peace, which the grace of God perfected in him to the close 
of his long and active life. 

His brother Charles was also made partaker of the same 
grace. They had passed together through the briers and 
thorns, through the perplexities and shadows, of the legal 
wilderness, and the hour of their deliverance was not far sepa- 
rated. Bohler visited Charles in his sickness at Oxford ; but 
" the Pharisee within" was somewhat offended when the hon- 
est German shook his head at learning that his hope of salva- 
tion rested upon " his best endeavors." After his recovery, 
the reading of Halyburton's Life produced in him a sense of 
his want of that faith which brings "peace and joy in the 
Holy Ghost." Bohler visited him again in London ; and he 
began seriously to consider the doctrine which he urged upon 
him. His convictions of his state of danger, as a man un- 
justified before God, and of his need of the faith whereof 
cometh salvation, increased; and he spent his whole time in 
discoursing on these subjects, in prayer, and reading the 
Scriptures. Luther on the Galatians then fell into his hands; 
and on reading the preface he observes : 

"I marvelled that we were so soon and entirely removed 
from him that called us into the grace of Christ, unto another 
gospel. Who would believe that our Church had been 
founded on this important article of justification by faith alone? 
I am astonished I should ever think this a new doctrine; 
especially while our Articles and Homilies stand unrepealed, 
and the key of knowledge is not yet taken away. From this 
time I endeavored to ground as many of our friends as came 
to see me in this fundamental truth — salvation by faith 
alone ; not an idle, dead faith, but a faith which works by 
love, and is incessantly productive of all good works and all 

"On Whit-Sunday, May 21st, he awoke in hope and ex- 
pectation of soon attaining the object of his wishes, the know- 
ledge of God reconciled in Christ Jesus. At nine o'clock 
his brother and some friends came to him, and sang a hymn 
suited to the day. When they left him he betook himself to 

* Journal. 


prayer. Soon afterwards a person came and said, in a very 
solemn manner, / Believe in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, 
and thou shalt be healed of all thine infirmities. ' The words 
went through his heart, and animated him with confidence. 
He looked into the Scripture, and read, ' Now, Lord, what is 
my hope ? Truly my. hope is even in thee.' He then cast 
his eye on these words, ' He hath put a new song into my 
mouth, even thanksgiving unto our God ; many shall see it 
and fear, and put their trust in the Lord/ Afterwards he 
opened upon Isaiah xl. 1 : ' Comfort ye, comfort ye my peo- 
ple, saith our God; speak comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry 
unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity 
is pardoned, for she hath received of the Lord's hand double 
for all her sins/ In reading these passages of Scripture, he 
was enabled to view Christ as set forth to be a propitiation for 
his sins, through faith in his blood ; and he received that 
peace and rest in God which he had so earnestly sought. 

"The next day he greatly rejoiced in reading the 107th 
Psalm, so nobly descriptive, he observes, of what God had 
done for his soul. He had a very humbling view of his own 
weakness ; but was enabled to contemplate Christ in his power 
to save to the uttermost all those who come unto God by 

Such was the manner in which these excellent men, whom 
God had been long preparing for the great work of reviving 
scriptural Christianity throughout these lands, were at length 
themselves brought " into the liberty of the sons of God." 
On the account thus given, a few observations may not be 

It is easy to assail with ridicule such disclosures of the 
exercises of minds impressed with the great concern of salva- 
tion, and seeking for deliverance from a load of anxiety in "a 
way which they had not known ;" and flippantly to resolve all 
these shadowings of doubt, these dawnings of hope, and the 
joyous influence of the full day of salvation, as some have 
done, into fancy, nervous affection, or natural constitution. 
To every truly serious mind, these will, however, appear sub- 
jects of a momentous character; and no one will proceed 
either safely or soberly to judge of them, who does not pre- 

* Whitehead's Life. 


viously inquire into the doctrine of the New Testament on 
the subject of human salvation, and apply the principles which 
he may find there, authenticated by infallible inspiration, to 
the examination of such cases. If it be there declared that 
the state of man by nature, and so long as he remains unfor- 
given by his offended God, is a state of .awful peril, then the 
all-absorbing seriousness of that concern for deliverance from 
spiritual danger, which was exhibited by the Wesleys, is a 
feeling becoming our condition, and is the only rational frame 
of mind which we can cultivate. If we are required to be 
of "an humble and broken spirit," and if the very root of 
true repentance lies in "godly sorrow" for sin; then their 
humiliations and self-reproaches were in correspondence with 
a state of heart which is enjoined upon all by an authority 
which we cannot dispute. If the appointed method of man's 
salvation, laid down in the gospel, be gratuitous pardon 
through faith in the merits of Christ's sacrifice, and if a 
method of seeking justification by works of moral obedience 
to the Divine law be plainly placed by St. Paul in opposition 
to this, and declared to be vain and fruitless; then, if in this 
way the Wesleys sought their justification before God, we 
sge how true their own statement must of necessity have been, 
that, with all their efforts, they could obtain no solid peace 
of mind, no deliverance from the enslaving fear of death and 
final punishment, because they sought that by imperfect works 
which God has appointed to be attained by faith alone. If it 
be said that their case was not parallel with that of the self- 
righteous Jews, who did not receive the Christian religion, 
and therefore that the argument of the apostle does not apply 
to those who believe the gospel, it will remain to be inquired 
whether the circumstance of a mere belief in the Christian 
system, when added to works of imperfect obedience, makes 
any essential difference in the case ; or, in other words, 
whether justification may not be sought by endeavors to obey 
the law, although the Judaism necessarily implied in it may 
be arrayed in the garb of Christian terms and phrases. If, 
indeed, by " works of the law/' St. Paul had meant only the 
ceremonial observances of the Jewish Church, the case would 
be altered; but his Epistle to the Romans puts it beyond all 
doubt that, in his argument respecting justification, he speaks 
of the moral law, since his grand reason to prove that by the 


works of the law no man can be justified, is, that "by the law 
is the knowledge of sin." That law is recognized and em- 
bodied in the New Testament ; but its first office there is to 
give ''the knowledge of sin/' that men may be convinced, or, 
as St. Paul forcibly says, "slain" by it; and it stands there 
in connection with the atonement for sin made by the sacrifice 
upon the cross. Nor is the faith which delivers men from 
the condemnation of a law which has been broken, and never 
can be perfectly kept by man, a mere belief in the truth of 
the doctrine of Christ, but reliance upon his sacrifice, in which 
consists that personal act by which we become parties to the 
covenant of free and gratuitous justification; and which then 
only stands sure to us, because then only we accept the mercy 
of God, as exercised towards us through Christ, and on the 
prescribed conditions. If, therefore, in the matter of our jus- 
tification, like the Wesleys, before they obtained clearer light, 
and the divines who were their early guides, we change the 
office of the moral law — though we may still regard it as in 
some way connected with the gospel, and call it by the gene- 
ral term of Christianity, of which it in truth forms the 
preceptive part — and resort to it, not that we may be con- 
vinced of the greatness of our sins, and of our utter inability 
to commend ourselves to a holy God, the requirements of 
whose law have never been relaxed, but as the means of 
qualifying ourselves, by efforts of obedience to it, for the re- 
ception of Divine mercy, and acquiring a fitness and worthiness 
for the exercise of grace towards us; then we reject the per- 
fection and suitableness of the atonement of Christ; we refuse 
to commit our whole case, in the matter of our justification, 
to that atonement, according to the appointment of God; and 
as much seek justification by works of the law as did the Jews 
themselves. Such was the case with the Wesleys, as stated 
in their own words. Theirs was not, indeed, a state of heart- 
less formality and . self-deluding Pharisaism, aiming only at 
external obedience. It was just the reverse of this : they 
were awakened to a sense of clauger, and they aimed at, nay, 
struggled with intense efforts after, universal holiness, inward 
and outward. But it was not a state of salvation ; and if we 
find a middle state like this described in the Scriptures — a 
state in transit from dead formality to living faith and moral 
deliverance — the question, with respect to the truth of their 


representations, as to their former state of experience, is set- 
tled. Such a middle state we see plainly depicted by the 
Apostle Paul, in the -seventh chapter of the Epistle to the 
Komans. There the mind of the person described "consents 
to the law that it is good," but finds in it only greater dis- 
coveries of his sinfulness aud danger; there the effort, too, is 
after universal holiness — "to will is present,'' but the power 
is wanting ; every struggle binds the chain tighter ; sighs and 
groans are extorted, till self-despair succeeds, and the true 
Deliverer is seen and trusted in : "0 wretched man that I 
am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death ? I 
thank God through Jesus Christ my Lord."* The deliver- 
ance, also, in the case described by St. Paul is marked with 
the same characters as those exhibited in the conversion of 
the Wesleys : " There is now no condemnation to them which 
are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the 

* "All the tirae I was at Savannah I was thus beating the air. Be- 
ing ignorant of the righteousness of Christ, which, by a living faith 
in him, bringeth salvation 'to every one that believeth,' I sought to 
establish my own righteousness, and so labored in the fire all my days. 
I was now properly under the law. I knew that 'the law of God was 
spiritual;' 'I consented to it that it was good; yea, I delighted in it 
after the inner man.' Yet I was 'carnal, sold under sin.' Every day 
was I constrained to cry out, ' What 1 do, I allow not ; for what I 
would, I do not ; but what I hate, that I do. To will is indeed pres- 
ent with me ; but how to perform that which is good, I find not. For 
the good which I would I do not; but the evil which I would not, 
that I do. I find a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present 
with me : even the law in my members, warring against the law of 
my mind, and still bringing me into captivity to the law of sin.' 

"In this state, I was indeed fighting continually, but not conquer- 
ing. Before, I had willingly served sin ; now it was unwillingly ; but 
still I served it. 1 fell and rose, and fell again. • Sometimes I was 
overcome, and in heaviness ; sometimes I overcame, and was in joy. 
For as, in the former state, I had some foretastes of the terrors of 
the law, so had I in this, of the comforts of the gospel. During this 
whole struggle between nature and grace, which had now continued 
above ten years, I had many remarkable returns to prayer, especially 
when I was in trouble : I had many sensible comforts, which are, in- 
deed, no other than short anticipations of the life of faith. But I 
was still under the law, no't under grace — the state most who are 
called Christians are content to live and die in. For I was only 
striving with, not freed from, sin ; neither had I ' the witness of the 
Spirit with my spirit.' And indeed could not; for 'I sought it not 
by faith, but, as it were, by the works of the law.' " — Wesley's Journal. 


Spirit; for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath 
made me free from the law of sin and death." " Therefore, 
being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our 
Lord Jesus Christ." Every thing in the account of the 
change wrought in the two brothers, and several of their 
friends about the same time, answers, therefore, to the New 
Testament. ' Nor was their experience, or the doctrine upon 
which it was fouuded, new, although in that aire of declining 
piety unhappily not common. The Moravian statement of 
justifying faith was that of all the Churches of the Reforma- 
tion; and through Peter Bohler* Mr. Wesley came first to 
understand the true doctrine of that Church of which he was 
a clergyman. His mind was never so fully imbued with the 
letter and spirit of that Article in which she has so truly inter- 
preted St. Paul, as when he learned from him, almost in the 
words of the Article itself, that "we are justified by faith 
only;" and that this is "a most wholesome doctrine." For 
the joyous change of Mr. Wesley's feelings, upon his persua- 
sion of his personal interest in Christ through faith, those per- 
sons who, like Dr. Southey,f have bestowed upon it several 
philosophic solutions, might have found a better reason, had 
they either consulted St. Paul, who says, " We joy in God, 
by whom we have received the reconciliation," or their own 
Church, which has emphatically declared, that the doctrine 
of justification by faith is not only very wholesome, but also 
"very full of comfort." 

[* A worthy descendant of this excellent man — a Miss Bohler — re- 
sides at Bethlehem, Pa., being connected with the Moravian Female 
Seminary at that place. — T. 0. S.] 

■j- Life of Wesley. 



State of religion in the natiori — Mr. Wesley's visit to Germany — Re- 
turn to England — His labors in London — Meets with Mr. Whitefield 
— Dr. Woodward's societies — Mr. Charles Wesley's labors — Field- 
preaching — Remarks. 

From this time Mr. "Wesley commenced that laborious and 
glorious ministry, which directly or indirectly was made the 
instrument of the salvation of a multitude, not to be num- 
bered till " the day which shall make all things manifest." 
That which he had experienced he preached to others, with 
the confidence of one who had "the witness in himself;" and 
with a fulness of sympathy for all who wandered in paths of 
darkness and distress, which could not but be inspired by the 
recollection of his own former perplexities. 

At this period the religious and moral state of the nation 
was such as to give the most serious concern to the few re- 
maining faithful. There is no need to draw a picture darker 
than the truth, to add importance to the labors of the two 
Wesleys, Mr. Whitefield, and their associates. The view 
here taken has often been drawn by pens unconnected with 
and hostile to Methodism. 

The Reformation from Popery, which so much promoted 
the instruction of the populace in Scotland, did much less for 
the people of England, a great majority of whose lower 
classes at the time of the rise of Methodism were even igno- 
rant of the art of reading • in many places were semi-barbarous 
in their manners ; and had been rescued from the superstitions 
of Popery, only to be left ignorant of every thing beyond a 
few vague and general notions of religion. G-reat numbers 
were destitute even of these; and there are still agricultural 
districts in the southern and western counties, where the case 


is not, even at this moment, much improved. A clergyman 
has lately- asserted in print, that in many villages of Devon- 
shire the only form of prayer still taught to their children by 
the peasantry consists of the goodly verses handed down from 
their Popish ancestors: 

" Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, 
Bless the bed that I lie on," etc. 

The degree of ignorance on all scriptural subjects, and of 
dull, uninquiring irreligiousness which prevails in many other 
parts, is well known to those who have turned their attention 
to such inquiries, and would be incredible to those who have 
not.* A great impression was made in many places by the 
zealous preachers who sprang forth at the Reformation; and 
in the large towns especially they turned many of the people 
"from darkness to light." But the great body of the Popish 
parish priests went round with the Reformation, without con- 
viction, and performed the new service, as they performed the 
old, in order to hold fast their livings. As what was called 
Puritanism prevailed, more zealous preaching and more care- 
ful instruction were employed; and by such ministers as the 
two thousand who were silenced by the Act of Uniformity, 
with many equally excellent men who conformed to the re- 
established Church, a great body of religious and well-in- 
structed people were raised up ; and indeed before the civil 
wars commenced, the nation might be said to be in a state of 
hopeful moral improvement. These troubles, however, arose 
before the effect produced upon a state of society sunk very 
low in vice and ignorance could be widely extended; and 
the keen and ardent political feelings which were then ex- 
cited, and the demoralizing effects of civil warfare, greatly 
injured the spirit of piety, by occupying the attention of men, 
and rousing their passions by other, and often unhallowed, 
subjects. The effect was as injurious upon the advocates of 
the old Church discipline as upon those of the new, and 
probably worse; because it did not meet in them, for the 

* By far the greater number of the peasants in Hampshire and 
Berkshire, lately tried under the Special commissions for riots and 
stack-burning, were found to be unable to read. 


most part, with principles so genuine and active to resist it. 
In many of the latter, Antinomianism and fanaticism became 
conspicuous ; but in the former, a total irreligion, or a lifeless 
formality, produced a haughty dislike of the spiritualities of 
religion, or a sneering contempt of them. The mischief was 
completed by the restoration of the Stuarts; for whatever 
advantages were gained by that event, in a civil sense, it let in 
a flood of licentiousness and impiety which swept away almost 
every barrier that had been raised in the public mind by the 
labors of former ages. Infidelity began its ravages upon the 
principles of the higher and middle classes ; the mass of the 
people remained uneducated, and were Christians but in name, 
and by virtue of their baptism ; whilst many of the great 
doctrines of the Reformation were banished both from the 
universities and the pulpits. Archbishop Leighton complains 
that his "Church was a fair carcase without a spirit ;" and 
Burnet observes that in his time "the clergy had less au- 
thority, and were under more contempt, than those of any 
Church in Europe; for they were much the most remiss in 
their labors, and the least severe in their lives/' Nor did the 
case much amend up to the period of which we speak. Dr. 
Soutiiey says, that " from the restoration to the accession of 
the house of Hanover, the English Church could boast of its 
brightest ornaments and ablest defenders, men who have 
never been surpassed in erudition, in eloquence, or in strength 
and subtilty of rnind." This is true; but it is equally so, 
that, with very few exceptions, those great powers were not 
employed to teach, defend, and inculcate the doctrines of that 
Church on personal religion, as it is taught in her liturgy, her 
articles, and her homilies, but what often is subversive of 
them ; and the very authority, therefore, which such writers 
acquired by their learned and able works was, in many re- 
spects, mischievous. They stood between the people and the 
better divines of the earlier age of the Church, and put them 
out of sight; and they set an example of preaching which, 
being generally followed, placed the pulpit and the desk at 
^rpetual variance, and reduced an evangelical liturgy to a 
\d form, which was repeated without thought, or so ex- 
plained as to take away its meaning. A great proportion of 
the clergy, whatever other learning they might possess, were 
grossly ignorant of theology, and contented themselves with 


reading short, unmeaning sermons, purchased or pilfered, and 
formed upon the lifeless theological system of the day. A 
little Calvinism remained in the Churchy and a little evangeli- 
cal Arininianisui ; but the prevalent divinity was Pelagian, 
or what very nearly approached it. Natural religion was 
the great subject of study, when theology was studied at all, 
and was made the test and standard of revealed truth. The 
doctrine of the opus operatum of the Papists, as to sacra- 
ments, was the faith of the divines of the older school ; and 
a refined system of ethics, unconnected with Christian mo- 
tives, and disjoined from the vital principles of religion in 
the heart, was the favorite theory of the modern. The body 
of the clergy neither knew nor cared about systems of any 
kind. In a great number of instances they were negligent 
and immoral; often grossly so. The populace of the large 
towns were ignorant and profligate; and the inhabitants of 
villages added to ignorance and profligacy, brutish and bar- 
barous manners. A more striking instance of the rapid de- 
terioration of religious light and influence in a country scarcely 
occurs than in our own, from the Restoration till the rise of 
Methodism. It affected not only the Church, but the dis- 
senting sects, in no ordinary degree. The Presbyterians had 
commenced their course through Arianism down to Socin- 
ianism ; and those who held the doctrines of Calvin had, in 
too many instances, by a course of hot-house planting, lux- 
uriated them into the fatal and disgusting errors of Antino- 
mianism. There were, indeed, many happy exceptions ; but 
this was the general state of religion and morals in the 
country, when the Wesleys, Whitefield, and a few kindred 
spirits came forth, ready to sacrifice ease, reputation, and 
even life itself, to produce a reformation. 

Before Mr. Wesley entered upon the career which after- 
ward distinguished him, and having no preconceived plan or 
course of conduct but to seek good for himself and to do 
good to others, he visited the Moravian settlements in Ger- 
many. On his journey he. formed an acquaintance with sev- 
eral pious ministers in Holland and Germany; and at Mari- 
enbourn was greatly edified by the conversation of Count 
Zinzendorf, and others of the Brethren, of whose views he 
did not, however, in all respects even then approve. From 
thence he proceeded to Hernhuth, where he stayed a fortnight, 


conversing with the elders and observing the economy of that 
Church, part of which, with modifications, he afterward in- 
troduced among his own societies. The sermons of Christian 
David especially interested him ; and of one of them, on " the 
ground of our faith," he gives the substance; which we may 
insert, both as excellent in itself, and as it so well agrees with 
what Mr. Wesley afterward uniformly taught : 

" The word of reconciliation which the apostles preached, 
as the foundation of all they taught, was, that ' we are re- 
conciled to God, not by our own works, nor by our own right- 
eousness, but wholly and solely by the blood of Christ/ 

" But you will say, Must I not grieve and mourn for my 
sins ? Must I not humble myself before my God ? Is not 
this just and right ? And must I not first do this before I 
can expect God to be reconciled to me ? I answer, It is just 
and right. You must be humbled before God. You must 
have a broken and contrite heart. But then observe, this is 
not your own work. Do you grieve that you are a sinner ? 
This is the work of the Holy Ghost. Are you contrite ? 
Are you humbled before God ? Do you indeed mourn, and 
is your heart broken within you ? All this worketh the 
self-same Spirit. 

* Observe again, this is not the foundation. It is not this 
by which you are justified. This is not the righteousness, 
this is no c part of the righteousness, by which you are recon- 
ciled unto God. You grieve for your sins. You are deeply 
humble. Your heart is broken. Well. But all this is no- 
thing to your justification.* The remission of your sins is 
not owing to this cause, either in whole or in part. Nay, 
observe further, that it may hinder your justification ; that is, 
if you build any thing upon it : if you think, I must be so or 
so contrite : I must grieve more, before I can be justified. 
Understand this well. To think you must be more contrite, 
more humble, more grieved, more sensible of the weight of 
sin, before you can be justified, is to lay your contrition, 
your grief, your humiliation, for the foundation of your being 
justified; at least for a part of the foundation. Therefore, 

* " This is not guarded. These things do not merit our justifica- 
tion, but they are absolutely necessary in order to it. God never 
pardons the impenitent." — Wesley's Journal. 


it hinders your justification; and a hindrance it is which 
must be removed, before you can lay the right foundation. 
The right foundation is, not your contrition, (though that is 
not your own,) not your righteousness, nothing of your own; 
nothing that is wrought in you by the Holy Ghost; but it is 
something without you, namely, the righteousness and blood 
of Christ. 

" For this is the word, ' To him that believeth on God that 
justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.' 
See ye not that the foundation is nothing in us ? There is 
no connection between God and the ungodly. There is no 
tie to unite them. They are altogether separate from each 
other. They have nothing in common. There is nothing 
less or more in the ungodly, to join them to God. Works, 
righteousness, contrition ? No. Ungodliness only. This then 
do, if you will lay a right foundation — Go straight to Christ 
with all your ungodliness. Tell him, Thou whose eyes are 
as a flame of fire, searching my heart, seest that I am un- 
godly. I plead nothing else. I do not say, I am humble, 
or contrite; but I am ungodly. Therefore, bring me to him 
that justifieth the ungodly. Let thy blood be the propitia- 
tion for me ; for there is nothing in me but ungodliness. 

" Here is a mystery. Here the wise men of the world are 
lost, are taken in their own craftiness. This the learned of 
the world cannot comprehend. It is foolishness unto them. 
Sin is the only thing which divides men from God. Sin (let 
him that heareth understand) is the only thing which unites 
them to God ; that is, the only thing which moves the Lamb 
of God to have compassion upon them, and by his blood to 
give them access to the Father. 

" This is the word of reconciliation which we preach. This 
is the foundation which never can be moved. By faith we 
are built upon this foundation ; and this faith also is the gift 
of God. It is his free gift, which he now and ever giveth to 
every one that is willing to receive it. And when they have 
received this gift of God, then their hearts will melt for sor- 
row that they have offended him. But this gift of God lives 
in the heart, not in the head. The faith of the head, learned 
from men or books, is nothing worth. It brings neither re- 
mission of sins, nor peace with God. Labor, then, to be- 
lieve with your whole heart. So shall you have redemption 


through the blood of Christ. So shall you be cleansed from 
all sin. So shall ye go on from strength to strength, being- 
renewed day by day in righteousness and all true holiness."* 

"I would gladly/' says Mr. Wesley, "have spent my life 
here ; but my Master calling me to labor in another part of 
his vineyard, I was constrained to take my leave of this happy 
place. when shall this Christianity cover the earth, as 
' the waters cover the sea !' " He adds, in another place, 
"I was exceedingly comforted and strengthened by the con- 
versation of this lovely people; and returned to England 
more fully determined to spend my life in testifying the gos- 
pel of the grace of God."f 

He arrived in London in September, 1738. His future 
course of life does not appear to have been shaped out in his 
mind : no indication of this appears in any of his letters, or 
other communication. So little ground is there for the in- 
sinuation, which has been so often made, that he early formed 
the scheme of making himself the head of a sect. This, 
even those inconsistencies, considering him as a Churchman, 
into which circumstances afterward impelled him, sufficiently 
.refute. That he was averse to settle as a parish minister, 
is certain ; and the man who regarded " the world as his parish" 
must have had large views of usefulness. That he kept in 
mind the opinion of the bishop who ordained him, that he 
was at liberty to decline settling as a parish priest, provided 
he thought that he could serve the Church better in any other 
way, is very probable ; and if he had any fixed purpose at all 
at this time, beyond what circumstances daily opened to him, 
and from which he might infer the path of duty, it was to 
attempt to revive the spirit of religion in the Church to which 
he belonged, and which he loved, by preaching " the gospel 
of the grace of God" in as many of her pulpits as he should 
be permitted to occupy. This was the course he pursued. 
Wherever he was invited, he preached the obsolete doctrine 
of salvation by grace through faith. In London great crowds 
followed him : the clergy generally excepted to his statement 
of the doctrine : the genteeler part of his audiences, whether 
they attended to the sermon or not, were offended at the 
bustle of crowded congregations; and soon almost all the 

* Journal. -j- Ibid. 


churches of the metropolis, one after another, were shut 
against him. He had, however, largely labored in various 
parts of the metropolis in churches, rooms, houses*, and pri- 
sons ; and the effects produced were powerful and lasting. 
Soon after, we find hi in at Oxford, employed in writing to 
his friends abroad, communicating the good news of a great 
awakening both in London and in that city. To Dr. Koker, 
of Rotterdam, he writes, October 13, 1738 : " His blessed 
Spirit has wrought so powerfully both in London and Ox- 
ford, that there is a general awakening, and multitudes are 
crying out, ' What must we do to be saved V So that till our 
gracious Master sendeth more laborers into his harvest, all 
my time is much too little for them." And to the church at 
Hernhuth he writes, under the same date: "We are endea- 
voring here, also, by the grace which is given us, to be follow- 
ers of you, as ye are of Christ. Fourteen were added to us 
since our return ; so that we have now eight bands of men, 
consisting of fifty-six persons, all of whom seek for salvation 
only in the blood of Christ. As yet we have only two small 
bands of women, the one of three, the other of five, persons. 
But here are many others who only wait till we have leisure 
to instruct them how they may most effectually build up one 
another in the faith and love of Him who gave himself for 

" Though ray brother and I are not permitted to preach in 
most of the churches in London', yet, thanks be to God, there 
are others left, wherein we have liberty to speak the truth as 
it is in Jesus. Likewise every evening, and on set evenings 
in the week, at two several places, we publish the word of 
reconciliation, sometimes to twenty or thirty, sometimes to 
fifty or sixty, sometimes to three or four hundred persons, met 
together to hear it." 

In December he met Mr. Whitefield, who had returned to 
London from America, " and they again took sweet counsel 
together." In the spring of the next year, he followed Mr. 
Whitefield to Bristol, where he had preached with great suc- 
cess in the open air. Mr. Wesley first expounded to a little 
society,* accustomed to meet in Nicholas street; and the 

* Tho "societies" which Mr. Wesley mentions in his journals as 
visited by him, for the purpose of expounding the Scriptures, m Lon- 


next day he overcame his scruples, and preached abroad, on 
an eminence near the city, to more than two thousand per- 
son^. On this practice he observes, that, though till lately 
he had been so tenacious of every point relating to decency 
and order, that he should have thought the saving of souls 
almost a sin, if it had not been done in a church, yet " Thave 

don and Bristol, were the remains of those which Dr. Woodward de- 
scribes, in an account first published about 1698 or 1699. They be- 
gan, about the year 1667, among a few young men in London, who, 
under Dr. Horneck's preaching, and the morning lectures in Cornhill, 
were brought, says Dr. Woodward, "to a very affecting sense of 
their sins, and began to apply themselves in a very serious way to 
religious thoughts and purposes." They were advised by their 
ministers to meet together weekly for "good discourse;" and rules 
were drawn up "for the better regulation of these meetings." They 
contributed weekly for the use of the poor, and stewards were ap- 
pointed to take care of and to disburse their charities. In the latter 
part of the reign of James II. they met with discouragement ; but on 
the accession of William and Mary, they acquired new vigor. "When 
Dr. Woodward wrote his account, there were about forty of these 
societies in activity within the Bills of Mortality, a few in the coun- 
try, and nine in Ireland. Out of these societies about twenty asso- 
ciations arose, in London, for the prosecution and suppression of 
vice ; and both these, and the private societies for religious edifica- 
tion, had for a time much encouragement from several bishops, and 
from the queen herself. By their rules they were obliged, at their 
weekly meetings, to discourse only on such subjects as tended to 
practical holiness, and to avoid all controversy; and, besides reliev- 
ing the poor, they were to promote schools, and the catechizing of 
"young and ignorant persons in their respective families." These 
societies certainly opened a favorable prospect for the revival of re- 
ligion in the Church of England. But whether they were cramped 
by clerical jealousy lest laymen should become too active in spiritual 
concerns ; or that, from their being bound by their orders to pro- 
secute vice, by calling in the aid of the magistrate, their moral influ- 
ence among the populace was counteracted, they appeared to have 
declined from about 1710; and although several societies still re- 
gained in London, Bristol, and a few other places, at the time when 
Mr. Wesley commenced his labors, they were 'not in a state of 
growth and activity. They_had, however, been the means of keeping 
the spark of piety from entire extinction. The sixth edition of Dr. 
Woodward's account of these societies was published in 1744- but 
from that time we hear no more of them : they either gradually died 
away, or were absorbed in the Methodist societies. This, at least 
was the case with several of them in London and Bristol ; and with 
that of St. Ives, in Cornwall. 


£ince seen abundant reason to adore the wise providence of 
God herein, making a way for myriads of people, who never 
troubled any church, or were likely so to do, to hear that 
word which they soon found to be the power of God unto sal- 

The manner in which he filled up his time may be seen 
from the following account of his weekly labors, at this 
period, at or <near Bristol : " My .ordinary employment in 
public was now as follows : Every morning I read prayers and 
preached at Newgate. Every evening I expounded a portion 
of Scripture, at one or more of the societies. On Monday, in 
the afternoon, I preached abroad, near Bristol. On Tuesday, 
at Bath and Two-Mile Hill, alternately. On Wednesday, at 
Baptist-Mills. Every other Thursday, near Pensford. Every 
other Friday, in another part of Kingswood. On Saturday, 
in the afternoon, and Sunday morning, in the Bowling-Green. 
On Sunday, at eleven, near Hannam-Mount; at two, at Clif- 
ton; at five, at Rose-Green. And hitherto, as my day is, so 
is my strength."* 

During Mr. Wesley's visit to Germany, his brother Charles 
was zealously employed in preaching the same doctrines, and 
with equal zeal, in the churches in London ; and in holding 
meetings for prayer and expounding the Scriptures. At this 
time he also visited "Oxford, and was made useful to several 
of his old college friends. When his brother returned from 
Hernhuth, he met him with great joy in London, and they 
" compared their experience in the things of God." The 
doctrine of predestination, on which so many disputes have 
arisen in the Church, and which was soon to be warmly de- 
bated among the first' Methodists, was shortly afterwards 
started at a meeting for exposition. Mr. Charles contented 
himself with simply protesting against it. He now first be- 
gan to preach extempore. In a conference which the brothers 
had with the Bishop of London, they cleared up some com- 
plaints, as to their doctrine, which he had received against 
them, and were, upon the whole, treated by him with liberal- 
ity. He strongly disapproved, however, of their practice of 
rebaptizimr persons who had been baptized by dissenters, in 
which they exhibited the firm hold which their High-Church 

* Journal. 


feelings still retained upon their minds. His Lordship showed 
himself, in this respect, not only more liberal, but better 
versed in ecclesiastical law and usage. The bishop, at this 
and at other interviews, guarded them strongly against Anti- 
nomianism; of which, however, they were in no danger. 
He was probably alarmed, as many had- been, at the stress 
they laid on faith, not knowing the necessary connection of 
the faith they preached with universal holiness. Mr. White- 
field was at this time at Oxford, and pressed Charles earnestly 
to accept a college living; which, as Dr. Whitehead justly 
observes, " gives pretty clear evidence that no plan of itiner- 
ant preaching was yet fixed on, nor indeed thought of. Had 
any such plan been in agitation among them, it is very cer- 
tain Mr. Whitefield would not have urged this advice on Mr. 
Charles Wesley, whom he loved as a brother, and whose 
labors he highly esteemed."* 

About this time some disputes took place, in the Fetter- 
lane society, as to lay-preaching ; and Mr. Charles Wesley, 
In the absence of his brother, declared warmly against it. He 
had also, whilst Mr. John Wesley was still at Bristol, a pain- 
ful interview at Lambeth, with the Archbishop of Canter- 
bury. His Grace took no exceptions to his doctrine, but 
cotKlemned the irregularity of his proceedings, and even 
hinted at inflicting excommunication. This threw him into 
great perplexity of mind, until Mr. Whitefield, with char- 
acteristic boldness, urged him to preach " in the fields the 
next Sunday; by which step he would break down the bridge, 
render his retreat difficult or impossible, and be forced to fight 
his way forward." This advice he followed. " June 24th, I 
prayed," says he, "and went forth -in the name of Jesus 
Christ. I found near a thousand helpless sinners waiting for 
the word in Moorfields. I invited them in my Master's 
words, as well as name : ' Come unto me, all ye that labor 
and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest/ The Lord 
was with me, even me, the meanest of his messengers, accord- 
ing to his promise. At St. Paul's, the psalms, lessons, etc., 
for the day put new life into me ; and so did the sacrament. 
My load was gone, and all my doubts and scruples. God 
shone on my path, and I knew this was his will concerning 

* Whitehead's Life. 


mo. I walked to Kennington Common, and cried to multi- 
tudes upon multitudes, ' Kepent ye, and believe the gospel/ 
The Lord was my strength, and my mouth, and my wisdom. 
that all would therefore praise the Lord for his goodness I" 

At Oxford, also, he had to sustain the severity of the Dean 
on the subject of field-preaching; but he seized the oppor- 
tunity of bearing his testimony to the doctrine of justification 
by faith, by preaching with great boldness before the uni- 
versity. On his return to London, he resumed field-preaching 
in Moorfields, and on Kennington Common. At one time it 
was computed that as many as ten thousand persons were col- 
lected, and great numbers were roused to a serious inquiry 
after religion. His word was occasionally attended with an 
overwhelming influence. 

That great public attention should be excited by these 
extraordinary and novel proceedings, and that the dignitaries 
of the Church, and the advocates of stillness and order, should 
take the alarm at them, as " doubting whereunto this thing 
might grow," were inevitable consequences. A doctrine so 
obsolete, that on its revival it was regarded as new and dan- 
gerous, was now publicly proclaimed as the doctrine of the 
apostles and reformers : the consciousness of the forgive- 
ness of sins was professed by many, and enforced as the pos- 
sible attainment of all : several clergymen of talents- and 
learning, which would have given influence to any cause, 
endued with mighty zeal, and with a restless activity, instead 
of settling in parishes, were preaching in various churches 
and private rooms, and to vast multitudes in the open air, 
alternately in the metropolis, and at Bristol, Oxford, and the 
interjacent places. They alarmed the careless, by bringing 
before them the solemnities of the last judgment; they ex- 
plained the spirituality of that law upon which the self-right- 
eous trusted for salvation, and convinced them that the justi- 
fication of man was by the grace of God alone through faith; 
and they roused the dosing adherents of mere forms, by 
tfeaching that true religion implies a change of the whole heart 
wrought by the Holy Ghost. With equal zeal and earnestness, 
they checked the pruriency of the Calvinistic. system, as held 
by many Dissenters, by insisting that the law which cannot 
justify was still the rule of life, and the standard of holiness 
to all true believers; and taught that mere doctrinal views 


of evangelical truth* however correct, were quite as vain and 
unprofitable as Pharisaism and formality, when made a sub- 
stitute for vital faith, spirituality, and practical holiness. All 
this zeal was supported and made more noticeable by the 
moral elevation of their character. Their conduct was scru- 
pulously hallowed; their spirit, gentle, tender, and sympa- 
thizing; their courage, bold and undaunted; their patience, 
proof against all reproach, hardships, persecutions ; their 
charities to the poor abounded to the full extent of all their 
resources ; their labors were wholly gratuitous ; and their 
wonderful activity, and endurance of the fatigues of rapid 
travelling, seemed to destroy th.e distance of place, and to 
give them a sort of ubiquity in the vast circuit which they 
had then adopted as the field of their labors. For all these 
reasons they "were men to be wondered at/' even in this the 
infancy of their career; and as their ardor was increased by 
the effects which followed — the conversion of great numbers, 
to G-od, of which the most satisfactory evidence was afforded 
— it disappointed those who anticipated that their zeal would 
soon cool, and that, "shorn of their strength," by opposition, 
reproach, and exhausting labors, they would become "like 
other men." 

!&n infidel or semi-Christian philosophy has its theories at; 
hand to account for the -appearance and conduct of such extra- 
ordinary men. If their own supposed " artifices," and the 
" temptation to place themselves at the head of a sect," will 
not solve the case, it then resorts " to the circumstances 
of the age," or to "that restless activity and ambition" which 
finds in them " a promising sphere of action, and is attracted 
onward by its first successes." Even many serious Church- 
men of later times, who contend that the great men of the 
Reformation were raised up by Divine Providence in mercy to 
the world, are kept by sectarian prejudices from acknowledg- 
ing a similar providential leading in the case of the Wesleys, 
Whitefield, and Howell Harris, because the whole of the 
good effected has not rested within their own pale, and all the 
sheep collected out of the wilderness have not been gathered 
into their own fold. The sober Christian will, however, 
resort to the first principles of his own religion, in order to 
form his judgment. He will acknowledge that the Lord of 
the harvest has the prerogative of " sending forth his labor- 


ers;" that men who change the religious aspect of whole 
nations cannot be the offspring of chance, or the creation of 
circumstances; that, whatever there maybe of personal fitness 
in them for the work, as in the eminent natural and acquired 
talents of St. Paul, and whatever there may be in circumstances 
to favor their usefulness, these things do not shut out the 
special agency of God, but make it the more manifest ; since 
the first more strikingly marks his agency in preparing his 
own servants, and training his soldiers; and the second, his 
wisdom in choosing the times of their appearance, and the 
scenes of their labors, and thus setting before them " an open 
door, and effectual. " Nor can it be allowed, if we abide by 
the doctrine of the Scriptures, that a real spiritual good could 
have been so extensively and uniformly effected, and " mul- 
titudes turned to the Lord/' unless God had been with the 
instruments, seconding their labors, and "giving his own tes- 
timony to the word of his grace." The hand of God is 
equally conspicuous in connecting the leading events of their 
earlier history with their future usefulness. They were men 
"separated to the gospel of God;" and every devout and 
grateful Christian will not cease to recognize in their appear- 
ance, labors, and successes, the mercy of God to a land where 
<l truth had fallen in the streets/' and the people were sitting 
in darkness, and in the shadow of death. 



Effect of the Labors of the Messrs. Wesley and Mr. Whitefield -at 
Kingswood — Mr. Wesley at Bath — Statement of his doctrinal views 
— Separates from the Moravians in London — Formation of the 
Methodist Society — Mr. Wesley's mother — Correspondence between 
Mr. John and Mr. Samuel Wesley on extraordinary emotions, and 
the doctrine of Assurance — Remarks — Enthusiasm — Divine influ- 
ence — Difference between Mr. Wesley and Mr. Whitefield — Their 
reconciliation — Mr. Maxtield — Mr. Wesley's defence of his calling 
out preachers to assist him in his work — Remarks. 

We left Mr. Wesley at Bristol, in the summer of 1739 ; 
to which scene of labor, after a visit to London, he again 
returned. Kingswood was mentioned in the account given 
by Mr. Wesley, in the preceding chapter, of his labors; and 
in this district, inhabited by colliers, and, from its rudeness, a 
terror to the neighborhood, the preaching of the two brothers 
and of Mr. Whitefield was eminently successful. The colliers 
were even proverbial for wickedness; but many of them 
became truly exemplary for their piety. These had been 
exhorted, it seems, to go to Bristol to receive the sacrament; 
but their numbers were so considerable that the Bristol 
clergy,* averse to the additional labor imposed upon them, 
repelled them from the communion, on the plea that they did 
not belong to their parishes. 

* Several of the Bristol clergy were, at that time, of a persecuting 
character. They induced a Captain Williams, the master of a vessel 
trading to Georgia, to make an affidavit of some statements, to the 
disadvantage of Mr. Wesley, in the affair of Mrs. Williamson ; but 
they took care that he should set sail before they published it. This 
led to the publication of Mr. Wesley's first Journal, as he states in 
the preface. In that Journal he gave his own account of the matter, 
and they were silenced. 


The effect of the leaven which had been thus placed in 
this mass of barbarism, was made conspicuous in the follow- 
ing year, in the case of a riot, of which Mr. Charles Wesley 
dives the following account. Being informed that the colliers 
had risen, on account of the dearnuss of corn, and were 
marching for Bristol, he rode out to meet them, and talk with 
them. Many seemed disposed to return with him to the 
school which had been built for the"ir children ; but the most 
desperate rushed violently upon them, beating them, and 
driving them away from their pacific adviser. He adds, " I 
rode up to a ruffian, who was striking one of our colliers, and 
prayed him rather to strike me. He answered, 'No, not for 
all the world/ and was quite overcome. I turned upon 
another, who struck my horee, and he also sank into a lamb. 
Wherever I turned, Satan's cause lost ground, so that they 
were obliged to make one general assault, and the violent 
colliers forced the quiet ones into the town. I seized one of 
the tallest, and earnestly besought him to follow me. Yes, 
he said, that he would, all the world over. I pressed about 
six into the service. We met several parties, and stopped 
and exhorted them to follow us ; and gleaning some from 
every company, we increased as we marched on singing to 
the school. From one till three o'clock we spent in prayer,- 
that evil might be prevented, and the lion chained. Then 
news was brought us that the colliers were returned in peace. 
They had walked quietly into the city, without sticks or the 
least violence. A few of the better sort of them went to the 
.Mayor, and told their grievance; then they all returned as 
they came, without noise or disturbance. All who saw it 
were amazed. Nothing could more clearly have shown the 
change wrought among them than this conduct on such an 
occasion. I found afterwards that all our colliers to a man 
had been forced away. Having learned of Christ not to resist 
evil, they went a mile with those who compelled them, rather 
than free themselves by violence. One man the rioters 
dragged out of his sick-bed, and threw him into the fish-pond. 
Near twenty of Mr. Willis's men they had prevailed on, by 
threatening to fill up their pits, and bury them alive, if they 
did not come up and bear them company." " It was a happy 
circumstance that they forced so many of the Methodist col- 
liers to go with them ; as these, by their advice and example, 


restrained the savage fury of the others. This undoubtedly 
was the true cause why they all returned home without mak- 
ing any disturbance." 

To a gentleman who requested some account of what had 
been done in Kingswood, Mr. John Wesley wrote the follow- 
ing statement : 

" Few persons have lived long in the west of England who 
have not heard of the colliers of Kingswood, a people famous, 
from the beginning hiiherto, for neither fearing God nor 
regarding man : so ignorant of the things of God, that they 
seemed but one remove from beasts that perish, and, there- 
fore, utterly without the desire of instruction, as well as 
without the means of it. 

"Many last winter used tauntingly to say of Mr. White- 
field, 'If he will convert heathens, why does not he*go to the 
colliers of Kingswood V In the spring he did so. And as 
there were thousands who resorted to no place of public wor- 
ship, he went after them into their own ' wilderness, to seek 
and save that which was lost/ When he was called away, 
others went into ' the highways and hedges, to compel them 
to come in.' And, by the grace of God, their labor was not 
in vain. The scene is already changed. Kingswood does not 
now, as a year ago, resound with cursing and blasphemy. It 
is no more filled with drunkenness and uncleanness, and the 
idle diversions that naturally led thereto. It is no longer full 
of wars and fightings, of clamor and bitterness, of wrath and 
envyings. Peace and love are there. Great numbers of the 
people are mild, gentle, and easy to be entreated. They 'do 
not cry, neither strive/ and hardly is 'their voice heard in the 
streets,' or indeed in their own wood, unless when they are at 
their usual evening diversion, singing praise unto God their 

At this time Mr. Wesley visited Bath, where the celebrated 
Beau Nash, then lord of the ascendant in that city, attempted 
to confront the field-preacher. 

"There was great expectation at Bath of what a noted man 
was to do to me there ; and I was much entreated 'not to 
preach; because no one knew what might happen/ By this 
report I also gained a much larger audience, amono- whom 
were many of the rich and great. I told them plainly, the 
Scripture had concluded them all under sin, high and low, 


rich and poor, one with another. Many of them seemed to 
be not a little surprised, and were sinking apace into serious- 
ness, when their champion appeared, and, coming close to me, 
asked by what authority I did these things. I replied, ' By 
the authority of Jesus Christ, conveyed to me by the (now) 
Archbishop of Canterbury, when he laid his hands upon me, 
and said, "Take thou authority to preach the gospel." ' He 
said, 'This is contrary to act of Parliament. This is a con- 
venticle.' I answered, 'Sir, the conventicles mentioned in 
that act (as the preamble shows) are seditious meetings. But 
this is not such. Here is no shadow. of sedition. Therefore 
it is not contrary to that act. > He replied, 'I say it is. And 
besides, your preaching frightens people out of their wits.' 
'Sir, did you ever hear me preach?' 'No.' 'How then can 
you judge of what you never heard?' 'Sir, by common report. 
Common report is enough.' 'Give me leave, sir, to ask, Is 
not your name Nash?' 'My name is Nash.' 'Sir, I dare not 
judge of you by common report. I think it is not enough to 
judge by.' Here he paused a while, and, having recovered 
himself, asked, 'I desire to know what this people come here 
for?' On which one replied, ' Sir, leave him to me. Let an 
old woman answer him. You, Mr. Nash, take care of your 
body. We take care of our souls; and for the good of our 
souls we come here.' He replied not a word, but walked 

"As I returned, the street was full of people, hurrying to 
and fro, and speaking great words. But when any of them 
asked, 'Which is he?' and I replied, 'I am he,' they were 
immediately silent. Several ladies following me into Mr. 
Merchant's house, the servant told me there were some 
wanted to speak with me. I went to them, and said, 'I be- 
lieve, ladies, the maid mistook; you only wanted to look at me.' 
I added, 'I do not expect that the rich and great should want 
either to speak with me or to hear me, for I speak the plain 
truth; a thing you hear little of, and do not desire to hear.' 
A few more words passed between us, and I retired."* 

After visiting London, and preaching to vast multitudes in 
Moorfields, on Kennington Common, and other places, some 
of whom were strangely affected, and many effectually 

* Journal. 


awakened to a sense of sin, in October, Mr. "Wesley had a 
pressing invitation to Wales, where, although the churches 
were shut against him, he preached in private houses, and in 
the open air. often during sharp frosts, and was gladly received 
by the people. "I have seen," says he, "no part of England 
so pleasant, for sixty or severity miles together, as those parts 
of Wales I have been in; and most of the inhabitants are 
indeed ripe for the gospel. I mean, if the expression seems 
strange, they are earnestly desirous of being instructed in it; 
and as utterly ignorant of it they are as any Creek or Chero- 
kee Indians. I do not mean they are ignorant of the name 
of Christ; many of them can say both the Lord's Prayer and 
the Belief; nay, and some all the Catechism ; but take them 
out of the road of what they have learned by rote, and they 
know no more (nine in teu of those with whom I conversed) 
either of gospel salvation, or of that faith whereby alone we 
are saved, than Chicali or Tomo Chachi. Now, what spirit is 
he of who had rather these poor creatures should perish for 
lack of knowledge, than that they should be saved, even by 
the exhortations of Howell Harris, or an itinerant preacher ? 
The word did not 'fall to the ground. Many repented, and 
believed the gospel. And some joined together to strengthen 
each other's hands in God, and to provoke one another to love 
and to good works."* 

About this time he stated his doctrinal views in perhaps as 
clear a manner, though in a summary form, as at any period 
subsequently : 

"A serious clergyman desired to know in what points we 
differed from the Church of England. I answered, To the 
best of my knowledge, in none : the doctrines we preach are 
the doctrines of the Church of England; indeed, the funda- 
mental doctrines of the Church, clearly laid down, both in her 
prayers, articles, and homilies. 

"He asked, 'In what points then do you differ from the 
other clergy of the Church of England V I answered, In 
none from that part of the clergy who adhere to the doctrines 
of the Church ; but from that part of the clergy who dissent 
from the Church (though they own it not) I differ in the points 
following : 

* Journal. 


"First. They speak of justification, either as the same 
thing with sanctification, or as something consequent upon it. 
I believe justification to be wholly distinct from sanctification, 
and necessarily antecedent to it. 

" Secondly. They speak of our own holiness or good works as 
the cause of our justification, or that for the sake of which, 
on account of which, we are justified before God. I believe, 
neither our own holiness nor good works are any part of the 
cause of our justification ; but that the death and righteous- 
ness of Qhrist are the whole and sole cause of it, or that for 
the sake of which, on account of which, we are justified before 

"Thirdly. They speak of good works as a condition of 
justification necessarily previous to it. I believe, no good 
work can be previous to justification, nor, consequently, a 
condition of it; but that we are justified (being till that hour 
ungodly, and therefore incapable of doing any good work) by 
faith alone ; faith without works ; faith, though producing all, 
yet including no good works. 

"Fourthly. They speak of sanctification, or holiness, as 
if it were an outward thing; as if it consisted chiefly, if not 
wholly, in these two points : 1. The doing no harm. 2. The 
doing good, as- it is called; that is, the using the means of 
grace, and helping our neighbor. 

"I believe -it to be an inward thing; namely, 'the life of 
God in the soul of man ; a participation of the Divine nature ; 
the mind that was in Christ ;' or, ' the renewal of our heart 
after the image of Him that created us.' 

"Lastly. They speak of the new birth as an outward 
thing ; as if it were no more than baptism, or, at most, a 
change from outward wickedness to outward goodness, from a 
vicious to what is called a virtuous life. I believe it to be an 
inward thing; a change from inward wickedness to inward 
goodness; an entire change of our inmost nature from the 
image of the devil, wherein we are born, to the image of God ; 
a change from the love of the creature to the love of the 
Creator, from earthly and sensual to heavenly and holy affec- 
tions : in a word, a change from the tempers of the spirits of 
darkness to those of the angels of God in heaven. 

"There is therefore a wide, essential, fundamental, irrecon- 
cilable difference between us ; so that if they speak the truth 


as it is in Jesus, I am found a false witness before God. But if 
I teach the way of God in truth, they are blind leaders of the 

Disputes having arisen between the Methodists and Mora- 
vians, who still formed one society at Fetter-lane, Mr. Wesley 
returned to London. Over this society he professed to have 
no authority, and, as it appeared, had but little influence. 
Various new doctrines of a mystical kind, which he thought 
dangerous, had been introduced by several of the teachers ; 
and it seems he foresaw a separation from them to, be inevi- 
table ; for he had taken a place near Moorfields, which had 
been used as a foundry for casting cannon ; and on this visit 
he preached in it to very numerous congregations. He was 
on this and other visits to London unsuccessful in settling the 
disputes which had arisen in the society; and in June, 1740, 
he again came to London, and spent upwards of a month 
among them, occupied at intervals in the same attempt. 
His efforts being fruitless, he read to them the following paper : 

"About nine months ago, certain of you began to speak 
contrary to the doctrine we had till then received. The sum 
of what you asserted is this : 1. That there is no such thing 
as Veak faith • that there is no justifying faith where there is 
ever any doubt or fear, or where there is not, in the full sense, 
a new, a clean heart. 2. That a man ought not to use those 
ordinances of God, which our Church terms means of grace, 
before he has such a faith as excludes all doubt and fear, and 
implies a new, a clean heart. 3. You have often affirmed, 
that to search the Scriptures, to pray, or to communicate, 
before we have this faith, is to seek salvation by works : and 
till these works are laid aside, no man can receive faith. 

"I believe these assertions to be flatly contrary to the word 
of God. I have warned you hereof again and again, and 
besought you to turn back to the law and to the testimony. 
I have borne with you long, hoping you would turn. But as 
I find you more and more confirmed in the error of your ways, 
nothing now remains but that I should give you up to God. 
You that are of the same judgment, follow me."—" I then," 
adds Mr. Wesley, "without saying any thing more, withdrew, 
as did eighteen or nineteen of the society." 

* Journal. 


Those who continued to adhere to him then met at the 
foundry : the whole number amounted to about seventy-two. 
The Moravian teacher, Molther, appears to have been the 
chief author of the Dovel opinions objected to by 3Ir. Wesley; 
whom, however, Peter Bohler thought Mr. Wesley misunder- 
stood ; which was not likely, as Mr. Charles Wesley mentions 
the same things in his Journal. Towards the Moravian 
Church at large, Mr. Weslev continued to feel an unabated 
affection ; but as he was never a- member of that Church, and 
maintained only a kind of co-fraternity with those of them 
who were in London, when these became infected with novel 
opinions, his departure from them, with such as were of the 
same mind as himself, and were also members of the Church 
of England, was a step of prudence and of peace. From a 
conversation which he had with Count Zinzendorf, a short 
time afterwards, and which he has published, it would seem 
that a refined species of Antinomianism had crept in amongst 
the Moravians ; and that the Count was, at that time, by no 
means a teacher of the class of Peter Bohler. But to affirm, 
with Zinzendorf, that there is .nothing but imputed righteous- 
ness, and to reject inherent righteousness — to insist upon all 
our perfection being in Christ, and to deny the Christian per- 
fection or maturity which believers derive from him — was 
not in accordance with the Moravian Church, as appears from 
the following extract from the authorized exposition of their 
doctrines by Spangenberg; which, since the perversions of 
these "wrong-headed men" have been mentioned, it would 
be unjust to the body of the Moravians to withhold : 

"Although this faith, which is so peculiar to all the chil- 
dren of God, that whoever has it not is no child of God, does 
no outward wonders and signs, raises none from the dead, 
removes no mountains; yet it does and perforins other things 
which are of much greater importance. What are those 
things? Answer: We through faith attain to the enjoyment 
of that which Christ hath, by his sacrifice, purchased for us. 
We are, 1. Through faith in Jesus Christ, made free from 
the dominion of sin. Paul says, ' Sin shall not have domin- 
ion over you ; for ye are not under the law, but under grace/ 
(Rom. vi. 14.) 

"All those who believe in Jesus Christ are freed from the 
curse and condemnation of the law : they obtain forgiveness 


of sins, become the adopted children of God, and are sealed 
with the Holy Ghost. These are they, then, who are made 
free from the dominion of sin, because they are under grace. 
Now, when they are thus exhorted, ' Let not sin reign in 
your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof; 
neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteous- 
ness unto sin,' etc., (Rom. vi. 12, 13,) they cannot say, 
1 0, this is impossible for us ! We are but sinful men : the 
flesh is weak ;' and the like. For they have Jesus Christ, 
who saveth his people from their sins : they have a Father in 
heaven, who heareth their prayer and supplication. The 
Holy Ghost dwells in their hearts, and strengthens them in 
all that is good. If they, therefore, do but rightly make use 
of the grace wherein, through faith, they stand, then sin can 
have no dominion over them. This is exactly what John 
says, (1 Epist. iii. 9,) ' Whosoever is born of God doth not 
commit sin ;' (he doth not let sin reign, or have the dominion 
in his mortal body, that he should obey it in the lusts thereof;) 
1 for his seed remaineth in him ; and he cannot sin, because 
he is born of God.' That is, his heart will comply with no 
such thing; for he loves our Saviour, being a child of God, 
aod a partaker of the Holy Ghost."* 

Not only Antinomian errors, but mystic notions of ceasing 
from ordinances, and waiting for faith in stillness, greatly pre- 
vailed, also, among the Moravians in London at this time, and 
were afterwards carried by them into many of the country 
Methodist societies in Yorkshire, Derbyshire, and other places. 
Of the effect at Nottingham, Mr. Wesley gives a curious ac- 
count, in his Journal for June, 1743 : — 

"■ In the afternoon we went on to Nottingham, where Mr. 
Howe received us gladly. At eight the society met, as usual. 
I could not but observe, 1. That the room was not half full, 
which used, until very lately, to be crowded within and with- 
out. 2. That not one person who came in used any prayer at 
all: but every one immediately sat down, and began either 
talking to his neighbor, or looking about to see who was there.- 
3. That when I began to pray, there appeared a general sur- 
prise, no one offering to kneel down, and those' who stood, 
choosing the most easy, indolent posture which they con- 

* Exposition, pp. 2J5, 216. 


veniently could. I afterwards looked for one of our hymn- 
books upon the desk, (for I knew Mr. Howe had brought one 
from London,) but both that and the Bible were vanished 
away ; and in the room lay the Moravian Hynins, and the 
Count's Sermons."* 

That incautious book, Luther on the Galatians, appears to 
have been the source of the Antinomianism of the Moravians; 
and their quietism they learned from Madame Guion, and 
other French mystic writers. 

The Methodist Society, as that name distinguishes the 
people who to this day acknowledge Mr. Wesley as their 
founder under God, was, properly speaking, as a society spe- 
cially under his pastoral charge, collected in this year, (1740,) 
at the chapel in Moorfields, where he regularly preached, and 
where, by the blessing of God upon his and Mr. Charles 
Wesley's labors, the society rapidly increased. For this, and 
for the societies in Bristol, Kingswood, and other parts, he, 
in 1743, drew up a set of Rules, which contioue in force to 
the present time, and the observance ,of which was then, and 
continues to be, the condition of membership. They are so 
well known, as to render it unnecessary to quote them. It 
may only be observed, that they enjoin no peculiar opinions, 
and relate entirely to moral conduct, to charitable offices, and 
to the observance of the ordinances of God. Churchmen or 
Dissenters, walking by these Rules, might become and remain 
members of these societies, provided they held their doctrinal 
views and disciplinary prepossessions in peace and charity. 
The sole object of the union was to assist the members to 
" make their calling and election sure/' by cultivating the 
religion of the heart, and a holy conformity to the laws of 
Christ. These Rules bear the signature of John and Charles 

Mr. Wesley's mother about this time began to attend his 
ministry. She had been somewhat prejudiced against her 
eons by reports of their " errors" and "extravagances;" but 
was convinced; upon hearing them, that they spoke "accord- 
ing to the oracles of God." There is an interesting entry in 
Mr. Wesley's Journal respecting this venerable woman : — 

" September 3'. I talked largely with my mother, who told 

* Journal. 


me that, till a short time since, she had scarce heard such a 
thing mentioned as the having forgiveness of sins now, or 
God's Spirit bearing witness with our spirit. Much less did 
she imagine that this was the common privilege of all true 
believers. ' Therefore,' said she, ' I never durst ask for it 
myself. But two or three weeks ago, while my son Hall was 
pronouncing those words, in delivering the cup to me, The 
blood of our Lord Jesus Christ which was given for thee; the 
words struck through my heart, and I knew God for Christ's 
sake had forgiven me all my sins/ 

" I asked, whether her father (Dr. Annesley) had not the 
same faith ; and whether she had not heard him preach it to 
others. She answered, ' He had it himself, and declared, a 
little before his death, - that for more than forty years he had 
no darkness, no fear, no doubt at all of his being accepted in 
the Beloved;' but that, nevertheless, she did not -remember 
to have heard him preach, no, not once, explicitly upon it; 
whence she supposed he also looked upon it as the peculiar 
blessing of a few, not as promised to all the people of 

The extraordinary manner in which some persons were 
frequently affected under Mr. Wesley's preaching as well as 
that of his coadjutors, now created much discussion, and to 
many gave great offence. Some were seized with trembling; 
others sank down, and uttered loud and piercing cries ; others' 
fell into a kind of agony. In some instances, whilst prayer 
was offered for them, they rose up with a sudden change of 
feeling, testifying that they had "redemption through the 
blood of Christ, even the forgiveness of sins, according to the 
riches of his grace." Mr. Samuel Wesley, who denied the 
knowledge of the forgiveness of sins, treated these things, in 
a correspondence with his brother, alternately with sarcasm 
and serious severity, and particularly attacked the doctrine 
of assurance. In this controversy, Mr. John Wesley attaches 
no weight whatever to these outward agitations ; but contends 
that he is bound to believe the profession made by many who 
had been so affected, of an inward change, because that had 
been confirmed by their subsequent conduct and spirit. On 
the subject of assurance, the disputants put forth their logical 

* Journal. 


acuteness; but the 'result appears to have been, upon the 
whole, instructive to the elder brother, whose letters soften 
considerably towards the close of the dispute. Mr. Samuel 
"Wesley died in the following November. The circumstances 
to which he objected, although he knew them only by report, 
and was too far removed from the scene to 1 be" an accurate 
judge, have since that time furnished ample subject for seri- 
ous or satirical animadversion to many writers, and to none 
more than to Dr. Southey.* A few general remarks upon 
this point may not, therefore, be here out of place. By this 
writer it is affirmed that great importance was attached by 
Mr. Wesley to those emotions and bodily affections which 
occasionally occurred; and that the most visionary persons, 
and those who pretended ecstasies, dreams, etc., were, at least 
in the early part of his ministry, the objects of his special 
respect, as eminently holy and favored. This is so far from 
the fact, that it is difficult to meet with a divine whose views 
of religion are more practical and definite. He did not deny 
that occasionally "God," even now, " speaketh in a dream, in 
a vision of the night/' and that he may thus " open the ears 
of men to instruction, and command them to depart from ini- 
quity :" he believed that, in point of fact, many indisputable 
cases of this kind have occurred in modern times ; and in 
this belief he agreed with many of the wisest and the best of 
men. He has recorded some cases of what may be called 
ecstasy, generally without an opinion of his own, leaving 
every one to form his own judgment from the recorded fact. 
He unquestionably believed in special effusions of the influ- 
ence of the Holy Spirit upon congregations and individuals, 
producing powerful emotions of mind, expressed in some in- 
stances by bodily affections; and he has furnished some facts 
on which Dr. Southey has exercised his philosophy, with a 
success, probably, more satisfactory to himself than convin- 
cing to his readers. But that any thing extraordinary, either 
of bodily or mental affection, was with Mr. Wesley, at any 
time of his life, of itself deemed so important as to be re- 
garded as a mark of superior piety, is a most unfounded as- 
sumption. Those of his Sermons which contain the doctrines 
which he deemed essential, his Notes on the New Testament, 

* Life of Wesley. 


and the Rules by which every member of his societies was 
required to be governed, are sufficiently in refutation of this 
notion. In them no reference is made to any thing visionary, 
as a part, however small, of true religion, unless, indeed, all 
spiritual religion, changing the heart, and .sanctifying the affec- 
tions, be thought visionary. The rule of admission into his 
societies was "a desire to flee from the wrath to come;" but 
then the sincerity of this was to be evidenced by corresponding 
" fruits' ; in the conduct; and on this condition only, further 
explained by detailed regulations, all of them simple and 
practical, were the members to remain in connection with 
him. These Rules are the standing evidence that, from the 
first formation of the Methodist societies, neither a specula- 
tive nor a visionary scheme of religion was the basis of 
their union. Had Mr. Wesley placed religion, in the 
least, in those circumstances, he would have set up a very 
different standard of doctrine in his Sermons; and the 
Rules of his societies would have borne an equivocal and 
mystic character. 

That cases of real enthusiasm occurred at this and subse- 
quent periods, is indeed allowed. There are always nervous, 
dreamy, and excitable people to be found; and the emotion 
which was produced among those who were really so " pricked 
in the heart" as to cry with a sincerity equal to that which 
was felt by those of old, " What shall we do to be saved?" 
would often be communicated to such persons by natural 
sympathy. No one could be blamed for this, unless he had 
encouraged the excitement for its own sake, or taught the 
people to regard it as a sign of grace, which most assuredly 
Mr. Wesley never did. Nor is it correct to represent these 
effects, genuine and factitious together, as peculiar to Me- 
thodism. A great impression was made by the preaching of 
the Wesleys and Mr. Whitefield in almost all places where 
they went. Thousands in the course of a few years, and of 
those too who had lived in the greatest unconcern as to 
spiritual things, and were most ignorant and depraved in 
their habits, were recovered from their vices, and the moral 
appearance of whole neighborhoods was changed. Yet the 
effects were not without precedent even in those circum- 
stances in which they have been thought most singular and 
exceptionable. Great and rapid results of this kind were pro- 


duced iu the first ages of Christianity, but not without " out- 
cries," and stroug corporeal as well as mental emotions, nay, 
and extravagances too. By perversion, even condemnable 
heresies arose, and a rank and real enthusiasm'- but will any 
man from this argue against Christianity itself, or asperse the 
labors and characters of those holy men who planted its 
genuine root in Asia, Africa, t and Europe? Will he say, 
that as, through the corrupt nature of men, evil often accom- 
panies good, one is to be confounded with the other, and that 
those great evangelists were the authors of the evil because 
they were the instruments of the benefit ? Even in the de- 
cline of true piety in the Church, of Christ, there were not 
wanting holy and zealous ministers to carry out the tidings 
of salvation to the barbarous' ancestors of European nations; 
and strong anjd effectual impressions were made by their 
faithful and powerful preaching upon the savage multitudes 
who surrounded them, accompanied with many effects similar 
to those which attended the preaching of the Wesleys and 
Whitefield. But all who went on these sacred missions were 
not enthusiasts; nor were all the conversions effected by them 
a mere exchange of superstitions. Such objectors might have 
known that like effects often accompanied the preaching of 
eminent men at the Reformation, and that many of the 
Puritan and Nonconformist ministers had similar successes in 
large districts in our own country. They might have known 
that in Scotland, and also among the grave Presbyterians of 
New England, previous to the rise of Methodism, such im- 
pressions had not unfrequently been produced by the ministry 
of faithful men, attended by very similar circumstances; and 
they might have been informed that, though on a smaller 
scale, the same results have followed the ministry of modern 
missionaries of different religious societies in various parts of 
the world. If may be laid down as a principle established by 
fact, that, whenever a zealous and faithful ministry is raised 
up, after a long spiritual dearth, the early effects of that 
ministry are not only powerful, but often attended with extra- 
ordinary circumstances; nor are such extraordinary circum- 
stances necessarily extravagances because they are not 
common. If there be an explicit truth in Scripture, it is, 
that the success of the ministry of the gospel, in the conver- 
sion of men, is the consequence of Divine influence ; and if 


there be a well-ascertained fact in ecclesiastical story, it is 
that no great and indisputable results of this kind have been 
Droduced but by men who have acknowledged this truth, and 
have o-one forth in humble dependence upon that cooperation 
which is promised in the words, "And, lo, I am with you 
always, even to the end of the world." This fact, equally 
striking and notorious, is a strong confirmation that the sense 
of the sacred oracles on this point was not mistaken by 
them. The testimony of the word of Glod is, that, as to 
ministerial success - , " God giveth the increase ;" the testimony 
of experience is, that no success in producing true conversion 
has ever taken place in any Church, but when this coopera- 
tion of Grod has been acknowledged and sought by the agents 
employed in it. 

The doctrine of Divine influence, as necessary to the con- 
version of men, being thus grounded on the evidence of 
Scripture, and further confirmed by fact, it may follow, and 
that in perfect conformity with revelation, that such influence 
may be dispensed in different degrees, at different periods. 
That it was more eminently exerted at the first establishment 
of Christianity than at some other periods, is certain ; and 
that not only in extraordinary gifts, (for though these might 
awaken attention and silence unbelief, we have the evidence 
of Scripture history to prove that miracles cannot of them- 
selves convert men from vice,) but in sanctifying energy, 
without which the heart is never brought to yield to the 
authority and will of G-od in its choice and affections. That 
in various subsequent periods there have been special dis- 
pensations of favor to nations, with reference to the improve- 
ment of their moral state, is clear, from a fact which cannot 
be denied, that eminently holy and gifted men have been 
raised up at such periods for the benefit of the countries and 
the age in which they appeared, from whose exertions they 
have derived the highest moral advantages. For the reasons 
we have given, we cannot refer the appearance of such men to 
chance, nor the formation of their characters to the circum- 
stances and spirit of "stirring times." We leave these con- 
clusions to the philosophy of the world; and recognize, in 
the appearance of such instruments, the merciful designs and 
special grace of Him " who worketh all and in all." But 
the argument is, that if such men have really been the in- 


struments of "turning many to righteousness/' and that if 
the principles of our religion forbid us to believe that this can 
be done by any gifts or qualities in them, however lofty, 
then, according to the Scripture doctrine, they were "workers 
together with God/' and the age in which they labored was 
distinguished by a larger effusion of the Holy Spirit upon the 
minds of men. Why this should occur at one time more 
eminently than at another, we pretend not to say; but even 
this notion, so enthusiastic, probably, to many, is still in con- 
formity to the word of God, which declares that "the wind 
bloweth where it listeth;" and that the influence of the Holy 
Spirit, like the atmosphere, is subject to laws not ascertain- 
able by man. And if this effusion of his influence argue 
especial, though undeserved, favor fo particular nations and 
ages, this is not more difficult to account for than that, at 
some periods and places, men of eminent usefulness should 
be sent into the world, when they do not appear in others ; 
which, being a mere matter of fact, leaves no room for cavil. 
This view, likewise, accords with what the Scriptures teach 
us to expect as to the future. For the accomplishment of 
the sublime consummation of the Divine counsels, agents of 
great efficiency and qualifications, we believe, will from time 
to time appear; but our hope does not rest on them, but on 
Him only who has explicitly promised to " pour out his Spirit 
upon all flesh," at once to give efficiency to instruments in 
themselves feeble, however gifted, and so "to order the 
unruly wills and passions of men," that they may be subdued 
and sanctified by the truth. If such effusions of Divine 
influence be looked for, and on such principles, as the 
means of spreading the power of Christianity generally, we 
may surely believe it quite accordant both with the spirit and 
letter of Scripture, that the same influence should often be 
exerted to preserve and to revive religion ; and that if nations, 
already Christian, are to be the instruments of extending 
Christianity, not in name only, but in its spirit and sanctity, 
into all the earth, they should be prepared for this high de- 
signation by the special exercise of the same agency turning 
them from what is merely formal in religion to its realities, 
and making them examples to others of the purifying grace 
of the gospel of God our Saviour. Let it then be supposed 
(no great presumption, indeed) that Christians have quite as 


good a foundation for these opinions as others can boast for 
that paltry philosophy by which they would explain the effects 
produced by the preaching of holy and zealous ministers in 
different ages ; and we may conclude that such effects, as far 
as they are genuine, are the result of Divine influence; and, 
when numerous and rapid, of a Divine influence specially and 
eminently exerted, giving more than ordinary assistance to 
the minds of men in their religious concerns, and rendering 
the obstinate more inexcusable by louder and more explicit 
calls. Of the extraordinary circumstances which have usually 
accompanied such visitations, it may be said, that if some 
should be resolved into purely natural causes, some into real 
enthusiasm, and (under favor of our philosophers) others into 
Satanic imitation, a suflicient number will remain, which can 
only be explained by considering them as results of a strong 
impression made upon the consciences and affections of men 
by an influence ascertained to be Divine, though usually 
exerted through human instrumentality, by its unquestion- 
able effects upon the heart and life. Nor is it either irrational 
or unscriptural to suppose that times of great national dark- 
ness and depravity, the case certainly of this country at the 
outset of Mr. Wesley and his colleagues in their glorious 
career, should require a strong remedy; and that the atten- 
tion of a sleeping people should be roused by circumstances 
which could not fail to be noticed by the most unthinking. 
We do not attach primary importance to secondary circum- 
stances ; but they are not to be wholly disregarded. The Lord 
was not in the wind, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire, 
but in the " still small voice ;" yet that " still small voice" 
might not have been heard, except by minds roused from their 
inattention by the shaking of the earth, and the sounding of 
the storm. 

If, however, no special and peculiar effusion of Divine influ- 
ence on the minds of many of Mr. Wesley's hearers be sup- 
posed — if we only assume the exertion of that ordinary influ- 
ence which, as we have seen, must accompany the labors of 
every minister of Christ to render them successful in saving 
men — the strong emotions often produced by the preaching 
of the founder of Methodism might be" accounted for on prin- 
ciples very different from those adopted by many objectors. 
The multitudes to whom he preached were generally grossly 


ignorant of the gospel; and he poured upon their minds a 
flood of light : his discourses were plain, pointed, earnest, and 
affectionate; the feeling produced was deep, piercing, and, in 
numberless cases, such as we have no right, if we believe the 
Bible, to attribute to any other cause than that inward opera- 
tion of God with his truth which alone can render human 
means effectual. Many of those. on whom such impressions 
were made retired in silence, and nurtured them by reflection. 
The "stricken deer" hastened into solitude, there to bleed, 
unobserved by all but God. This was the case, with the 
majority; for visible and strong emotions were the occasional, 
and not the constant, results. At some seasons, indeed, 
effects were produced which, on Christian principles, we may 
not hesitate to say, can only be accounted for on the assump- 
tion that the influence was both Divine and special ; at 
others, the impression was great, but yet we need assume 
nothing m'ore than the ordinary blessing of God which accom- 
panies " the word of his grace/' when delivered in the fulness 
of faith and love, in order to account for it. But besides 
those who were silently pierced, and whose minds were suffi- 
ciently strong to command their emotions, there were often 
many of a class not accustomed to put such restraints upon 
themselves. To a powerful feeling they offered but a slight 
resistance, and it became visible. To many people then, as 
now, this would appear extravagant; but on what principle 
can the genuineness of the impression be questioned ? Only 
if no subsequent fruit appeared. For if a true conversion 
followed, then, if there be truth in religion itself, the "finger 
of God" must be acknowledged. 

We have hitherto seen Mr. Wesley and Mr. Whitefield 
laboring together in harmony, and uniting in a common 
design to promote the revival of scriptural Christianity 
through the land. But Mr. Wesley about this time being 
impressed with the strong tendency of the Calvinistic doc- 
trines to produce Antinomianism, published a sermon against 
absolute predestination, at which Mr. Whitefield, who some 
,time previously had embraced that notion, took offence. A 
controversy between them, embracing some other points, 
ensued, which issued in a temporary estrangement; and they 
labored from this time independently of each other; their 


societies in London, Kingswood, and other places, being kept 
quite separate. 

A reconciliation, however, took place between Mr. Wesley 
and Mr. Whitefield in January, 1750, so that they preached 
in each other's chapels. The following entry on this subject 
appears in his Journal : — u Friday, 19th. In the evening I 
read prayers at the chapel in West street, and Mr. Whitefield 
preached a plain, affectionate discourse. Sunday, 21. He read 
prayers, and I preached. Sunday, 28. I read prayers, and 
Mr. Whitefield preached. How wise is God, in giving differ- 
ent talents to different preachers ! So, by the blessing of 
God, one more stumbling-block is removed/' 

The following extract from Mr. Whitefield's will is a pleas- 
ing instance of generous, truly Christian feeling : — " I leave a 
mourning-ring to my honored and dear friends, and disinter- 
ested fellow-laborers, the Rev. Messrs. John and Charles 
Wesley, in token of my indissoluble union with them in 
heart and Christian affection, notwithstanding our difference 
in judgment about some particular points of doctrine."* 

Mr. Wesley, at Mr. Whitefield's own desire, preached his 
funeral sermon at the Tabernacle, Moorfields. 

Several preachers were now employed by Mr. Wesley to 
assist in the growing work, which already had swelled beyond 
even his and his brother's active powers suitably to supply 
with the ministration of the word -of God. Mr. Charles 
Wesley had discouraged this from the beginning, and even 
he himself hesitated; but, with John, the promotion of reli- 
gion was the first concern, and Church order the second, 
although inferior in consideration to that only. With Charles 
these views were often reversed. Mr. Wesley, in the year 
1741, had to caution his brother against joining the Mora- 
vians, after the example of Mr. Gambold, to which he was at 
that time inclined; and adds, "I am not clear that Brother 
Maxfield should not expound at Greyhound-lane, nor can I 
as yet do without him. Our clergymen have increased full 
as much as the preachers." Mr. Maxfield's preaching had the 
strong sanction of the Countess of Huntingdon ; but so little 
of design, with reference to the forming of a sect, had Mr. 

* Journal. 


Wesley, in the employment of Mr. Maxfield, that, in his own 
absence from London, he had only authorized him to pray 
with the society, and to advise them as might be needful ; 
and upon his beginning to preach, he hastened baok to silence 
him. On this his mother addressed him : " John, you know 
what my sentiments have been. You cannot suspect me of 
favoring readily any thing of this kind. But take care what 
you do with, respect to that young man ; for he is as surely 
called of God to preach as you are. Examine what have been 
the fruits of his preaching, and hear him also yourself/' He 
took this advice, and could not venture to forbid him. 

His defence of himself on this point we may pronounce 
irrefutable; and it Jurns upon the disappointment of his hopes, 
that the parochial clergy would take the charge ©f those who, 
in different places, had been brought to God by his ministry, 
and that of his fellow-laborers. 

" It pleased God/' says Mr. Wesley, " by two or three 
ministers of the Church of England, to call many sinners to 
repentance, who, in several parts, were undeniably turned from 
a course of sin to a course of holiness. 

" The ministers of the places where this was done ought 
to have received those ministers with open arms ; and to have 
taken those persons Who had just begun to serve God into 
their particular care ; watching over them in tender love, lest 
they should fall back into the snare of the devil. 

" Instead of this, the greater part spoke of those ministers 
as if the devil, not God, had sent them. Some repelled them 
from the Lord's table ; others stirred up the people against 
them, representing them, even in their public discourses, as 
fellows not fit to live : Papists, heretics, traitors ; conspirators 
against their king and country. 

"And how did they watch over the sinners lately reformed ? 
Even as a leopard watcheth over his prey. They drove some 
of them from the Lord's table ; to which, till now, they had 
no desire to approach. They preached all manner of evil 
concerning them, openly cursing them in the name of the 
Lord. They turned many out of their work, persuaded 
others to do so too, and harassed them in all manner of 

"The event was, that some were wearied out, and so 
turned back to the vomit again. And then these good pas- 


tors gloried over tKem, and endeavored to shake others by 
their example. 

" When the ministers, by whom God had helped them be- 
fore came again to those places, great part of their work was 
to begin again, if it could be begun again ; but the relapsers 
were often so hardened in sin, that no impression could be 
made upon them. 

" What could they do in a case of so extreme necessity, 
where so many souls lay at stake ? 

"No clergyman would assist at all. The expedient that 
remained was, to find some one among themselves who was 
upright of heart, and of sound judgment in the things of God ; 
and to desire him to meet the rest as often as he could, in 
order to confirm them, as he was able, in the ways of God, 
either by reading to them, or by prayer, or by exhortation." 

This statement may indeed be considered as affording the 
key to all that which, with respect to Church order, may be 
called irregularity in Mr. Wesley's future proceedings. God 
had given him large fruits of his ministry in various places ; 
when he was absent from them, the people were "as sheep 
having no shepherd," or were rather persecuted by their 
natural pastors, the clergy ; he was reduced, therefore, to the 
necessity of leaving them without religious care, or of pro- 
viding it for them. He wisely chose the latter ; but, true to 
his own principles, and even prejudices, he carried this no 
farther than the necessity of the case : the hours of service 
were in no instance to interfere with those of the Establish- 
ment, and at the parish church the members were exhorted 
to communicate. Thus a religious society was raised up 
within the national Church, and with this anomaly, that, as 
to all its interior arrangements as a society, it was independ- 
ent of the ecclesiastical authority of that Church. The irreg- 
ularity was, in principle, as great when the first step was 
taken as at any future time. It was a form of practical and 
partial separation, though not of theoretical dissent ; but it 
arose out of a moral necessity, and existed for some years in 
such a state that, had the clergy been disposed to cooperate in 
this evident revival and spread of true religion, and had the 
heads of the Church been willing to sanction itinerant labors 
among its ministers, and private religious meetings among 
the serious part of the people for mutual edification, the 


great body of Methodists might have been retained in com- 
munion with the Church of England. 

On this* matter, which was often brought before the leading 
and influential clergy, they made their own election. They 
refused to cooperate : they doubtless thought that they acted 
right; and, excepting the obloquy and persecution with 
which they followed an innocent and pious people, they per- 
haps did so ; for a great innovation would have been made 
upon the discipline of the Church, for which, at that time, at 
least, it was little prepared. But the clergy, having made 
their election, have no right, as some of them continue to do, 
to censure either the founders of Methodism or their people 
for making more ample provision for their spiritual wants. 
It was imperative upon the former to provide that pastoral 
care for the souls brought to God by their labors, which the 
Church could not or would not afford ; and the people had a 
Christian liberty to follow that course which they seriously 
believed most conducive to their own edification, as well as a 
liberty by the very laws of their country. The violent cleri- 
cal writers against Methodism have usually forgotten that no 
man in England is bound to the national Church by any thing 
but moral influence ; and that from every other tie he is 
set free by the laws which recognize and protect religious 
liberty. Mr. Wesley resisted all attempts at a formal sepa- 
ration, still hoping that a more friendly spirit would spring 
up among the clergy ; and he even pressed hard upon the 
consciences of his people to effect their uniform and constant 
attendance at their parish churches, and at the sacrament; 
but he could not long and generally succeed. Where the 
clergyman of a parish was moral or pious, there was no diffi- 
culty ; but cases of conscience were continually arising among 
his societies, as to the lawfulness of attending the ministry of 
the irreligious and profane clergymen, who were then and 
long afterward found throughout the land; and as to hear- 
ing, and training up children to hear, false and misleading 
doctrines, JVlagian, Autinomian, or such as were directed in 
some form against the religion of the heart, as taught in the 
Scriptures, and in the services of the national Church. These 
eases exceedingly perplexed Mr. Wesley; and though he re- 
laxed his strictness in some instances, yet, as he did not 
sufficiently yield to meet the whole case, and perhaps could 


not do it without adopting such an ecclesiastical organization 
of his societies as would have contradicted the principles to 
which, as to their relation to the Church, he had, perhaps, 
over-hastily and peremptorily committed himself: the effect 
was, that, long before his death, the attendance of the Method- 
ists at such parish churches as had not pious ministers was 
exceeding scanty ; and as they were not permitted public 
worship among themselves in the hours of Church service, 
a great part of the Sabbath was lost to them, except as they 
employed it in family and private exercises. So, also, as to 
the Lord's Supper : as it was not then administered by their 
own preachers, it fell into great and painful neglect. To 
meet the case in part, the two brothers, and a few clergymen 
who joined them, had public service in church hours, in the 
chapels in London and some other places, and administered 
the Lord's Supper to numerous communicants : a measure 
which, like other inconsistencies of a similar kind, grew out 
of a sense of duty, warring with, and restrained by, strong 
prepossessions, and the very sincere but very unfounded hope 
just mentioned — that a more friendly spirit would be awakened 
among the clergy, and that all the sheep gathered out of the 
^wilderness would at length be kindly welcomed into the 
national fold. As ecclesiastical irregularitfes, these measures 
stood, however, precisely on the same principle as those 
subsequent changes which have rendered the body of Method- 
ists still more distinct and separate : a subject to which refer- 
ence will again be made. The warmest advocates of Church 
Methodism among ourselves were never consistent Church- 
men ; and the Church writers, who have set up the example 
of Mr. Wesley against his more modern followers, have been 
wholly ignorant or unmindful of his history. Dr. Southey, 
and others who have fancied a plan of separation in Mr. 
Wesley's mind from the beginning, though followed cautiously 
and with policy, "step by step," have shown a better ac- 
quaintance with the facts of the progress of Methodism; 
though they have been most unjust to the pure and un- 
designing mind of its founder; who walked "step by step," 
it is true, but only as Providence, by an arrangement of cir- 
cumstances, seemed to lead the way; and would make no 
change but as a necessity, arising from conscientious views of 
the prosperity of a spiritual work, appeared to dictate. Had 


lie looked forward to the forming of a distinct sect as an 
honor, he would have attempted to enjoy it in its fulness during 
his life ; and had he been so skilful a designer as some have 
represented him, he would not have left a large body un- 
provided for, in many respects essential to its prosperity and 
permanence, at his death. He left fr'is work unfinished, and 
knew that he should leave it in that state ; but he threw the 
final results, in the spirit of a strong faith, upon the care of 
Him whose hand he had seen in it from the beginning. 



Persecution in London — Institution of classes — Mr. Wesley charged 
with being a Papist — His labors in Yorkshire, Northumberland, 
and Lincolnshire — Death of Mrs. Susannah Wesley — Labors and 
persecutions of Mr. Charles Wesley in Staffordshire and York- 
shire — Increase of the societies — Mr. Wesley's danger and escape 
at Wednesbury — His first visit to Cornwall — Riots in Stafford- 
shire — Preaches for the last time before the University of Ox- 
ford — Correspondence with the Rev. J. Erskine — His sermon on 
"A catholic spirit" — First Conference held — Remarks. 

We have now to follow these apostolic men into still more 
extended fields of labor, and to contests more formidable. 
They had sustained many attacks from the press, and some 
frowns from the authorities of the Church. By mobs they 
had occasionally been insulted both in England and Wales. 
But in London, some riotous proceedings, of a somewhat vio- 
lent character, now occurred at their places of worship. 
With respect to these, the following anecdote is curious, as 
it shows that Mr. Wesley's zeal was regarded with favor in a 
high quarter: u On the last day of 1742, Sir John Ganson 
called upon Mr. Wesley, and said, ' Sir, you have no need to 
suffer these riotous mobs to molest you, as they have done 
long. I and all the other Middlesex magistrates have orders 
from above to do you justice whenever you apply to us.' 
Two or three weeks after they did apply. Justice was done, 
though not with rigor ; and from that time the Methodists 
had peace in London."* 

In the discipline of Methodism, the division of the society 

* Whitehead's Life. 


into classes is an important branch. Each class is placed 
under a person of experience and piety, who meets the others 
once a week, for prayer, and inquiry into the religious -state 
of each, in order to administer exhortation and counsel. The 
origin of these classes was, however, purely accidental. The 
chapel at Bristol was in debt; and it was agreed that each 
member of the society should contribute one penny a week to 
reduce the burden. The Bristol society was therefore divided 
into classes ; and, for convenience, one person was appointed 
to collect the weekly subscriptions from each class, and to pay 
the amount to the stewards. The advantage of this system, 
when turned to a higher purpose, at once struck the method- 
ical and practical mind of Mr. Wesley : he therefore invited 
several " earnest and sensible men" to meet him; and the 
society in London was divided into classes like that of Bris- 
tol, and placed under the spiritual care of these tried and ex- 
perienced persons. At first they visited each person, at his 
own residence, once a week; but the preferable mode of 
bringing each class together weekly was at length adopted. 
These meetiugs are not, as some have supposed, inquisitorial ; 
but their business is confined to statements of religious ex- 
perience, and the administration of friendly and pious coun- 
sel. Mutual acquaintance with each other is thus formed; 
the leader is the friend and adviser of all ; and among the 
members, by their praying so often with and for each other, 
the true "fellowship of saints" is promoted. Opportunities 
are also thus afforded for ascertaining the wants of the poorer 
members, and obtaining relief for them; and for visiting the 
sick : the duty of the leader being to see his members once in 
the week, either at the meeting, or, if absent from that, at 
home. Upon this institution Mr. Wesley remarks, " Upon 
reflection I could not but observe, this is the very thing 
which was from the beginning of Christianity. In the 
earliest times, those whom God had sent forth l preached the 
gospel to every creature.' The body of hearers were mostly 
either Jews or heathens. But as soon as any of these were 
so convinced of the truth as to forsake sin, and seek the 
gospel of salvation, they immediately joined them together, 
took an account of their names, advised them to watch over 
each other, and met these KaT7)xov(j,evoi, catechumens, as they 
were then called, apart from the great congregation, that they 


might instruct, rebuke, exhort, and pray with them and foi 
thenij according to their several necessities."* 

A current charge against Mr. Wesley, about this time, was, 
that he was a Papist ; and, from the frequent references to it 
in his Journal, although it .was treated by him with charac- 
teristic sprightliness, it appears to have been the occasion of 
much popular odium, arising from the fears entertained by 
the nation of the movements of the Pretender. In his Jour- 
nal, March, 1741, he says, "Calling on a person near Grosve- 
nor Square, I found there was but too much reason here for cry- 
ing out of the increase of Popery, many converts to it being 
continually made by the gentleman who preaches in Swallow 
street three days in every week. Now, why do not the cham- 
pions, who are continually crying out, ' Popery, Popery,' in 
Moorfields, come hither, that they may not always be fighting 
'as one that beateth the air V Plainly, because they have no 
mind to fight at all, but to show their valor without an oppo- 
nent. And they well know they may defy Popery at the 
Foundry without any danger of contradiction." And some 
time afterward he remained in London, from whence all Pa- 
pists had been ordered by proclamation to depart, a week 
longer than he intended, that he might not seem to plead 
guilty to the charge. The notion that the Methodists were 
Papists was also, in those times, the occasion of their being 
persecuted in several places in the country. 

Mr. Wesley now extended his labors northward. He first 
accepted an invitation into Leicestershire, and has the follow- 
ing amusing anecdote in his Journal : "I stopped a little at 
Newport-Pagnell, and then rode on till I overtook a serious 
man, with whom I immediately fell into conversation. He 
presently gave me to know what his opinions were ; therefore 
I said nothing to contradict them. But that did not content 
him ; he was quite uneasy to know whether I held the doc- 
trine of the decrees, as he did. But I told him, over and 
over, we had better keep to practical things, lest we should be 
angry at one another; and so we did for two miles, till he 
caught me unawares, and dragged me into the dispute before 
I knew where I was. He then grew warmer and warmer j 
told me I was rotten at heart, and supposed I was one of John 

* Journal. 


Wesley's followers. I told him, 'No; I am John Wesley 
himself/ Upon which he appeared, 

'Improvisum aspris veluli qui sentibus anguern 
Pressif — 

' as one who 'had unawares trodden on a snake/ and would 
gladly have run away outright. But, being the better mounted 
of the two, I kept close to his side, and endeavored to show 
him his heart till we came into the street of Northampton." 
In this journey he visited Yorkshire. At Birstal and the 
neighborhood "many persons had been awakened to a.serious 
concern by the conversation and preaching of honest John 
Nelson, who had himself been brought to the knowledge of 
G-od in London, by attending the service at the Foundry, 
and had returned to his friends in Yorkshire, chiefly moved 
by a strong desire to promote their salvation. The natural 
genius of this excellent man, who afterwards suffered much 
persecution, and was barbarously treated by the magistrates 
and clergy, was admirably acute, and gave to his repartees a 
surprising power and convincingness. He greatly excelled in 
conversation on religious subjects; and his Journal is one of 
the most interesting pieces of biography published among the 
Methodists. When Mr. Wesley reached Birstal, he found 
that he had been the instrument of very extensive good, so 
that the moral aspect of the town had been changed. After 
preaching to a large congregation on Birs-tal-Ilill, and on the 
side of Dewsbury-Moor, and encouraging Mr. Nelson in his 
endeavors to do good, Mr. Wesley proceeded to Newcastle- 
upon-Tyne, hoping to have the same fruit of his labors among 
the colliers of that district as he had seen among those of 
Kingswood. So true was this lover of the souls of men to 
his own advice to his preachers, u Go not only to those who 
need you, but to those who need you most." 

On walking through the town, after he had taken some 
refreshment, he observes, "I was surprised; so much drunken- 
ness, cursing, and swearing, even from the mouths of little 
children, do I never remember to have seen and heard before 
in so short a time." Sunday, May 30th, at seven in the 
morning, he walked down to Sandgate, the -poorest and most 
contemptible part of the town; and, standing at the end of 
the street with John Taylor, began to sing the hundredth 


Psalm. " Three#or four people," says lie, u came out to see 
what was the matter, who soon increased to four or five hun- 
dred. I suppose there might be twelve or fifteen hundred 
before I had done preaching, to whom I applied these solemn 
words : ' He was wounded for our transgressions, he was 
bruised for our iniquities : the chastisement of our peace was 
upon him, and by his stripes we are healed/ " 

In returning southward, he preached in various parts of 
Yorkshire ; and, visiting Epworth, where a small 'society 
of Methodists had been collected, and finding the use of the 
church denied him, he stood upon his father's tomb, and 
preache'd to a numerous congregation, who, as well as himself, 
appear to have been deeply impressed with the circumstance 
of the son speaking to them, as from the ashes of his father, 
on those solemn subjects on which that venerable parish priest 
had faithfully addressed them for so many years. This was 
Sunday, June 6th, 1742; and on the Wednesday following 
he humorously relates : " I rode over to a neighboring town, 
to wait upon a justice of peace, a man of candor and under- 
standing; before whom, I was informed, their angry neigh- 
bors had carried a whole wagon-load of these new heretics. 
But when he asked what they had done,, there was a deep 
ssilence ; for that was a point their conductors had forgot. At 
length one said, ' Why, they pretend to be better than other 
people; and, besides, they pray from morning till night.' Mr. 

S asked, 'Butjiave they done nothing besides?' ' Yes, 

sir,' said an old man, ' an't please your worship, they have 
convarted my wife. Till she went among them, she had such 
a tongue ; and now she is as quiet as a lamb.' ' Carry them 
back, carry them back,' replied the justice, 'and let them 
convert all the scolds in the town.' "* 

On the Sunday following he also preached at Epworth; 
and remarks, "At six I preached, for the last time, in Ep- 
worth churchyard, (being to leave the town the next morn- 
ing,) to a vast multitude gathered together from all parts, on 
the beginning of our Lord's Sermon on the Mount. I con- 
tinued among them for near three hours; and yet we scarce 
knew how to part. let none think his labor of love is lost, 
because the fruit does not immediately appear. Near forty 

* Journal. 


years did my father labor here ; but he saw little fruit of all 
his labor. I took some pains among this people, too; and 
my strength also seemed to be speut in vain. But now the 
fruit appeared. There were scarce any in the town, on whom 
either my father or I had taken any pains formerly, but the 
seed sown so long since now sprang up, bringing forth re- 
pentance and remission of sins. ; '* 

The following remarks on a sermon he heard at Painswick 
occur in his Journal about this time, and deserve notice : "I 
went to church at ten, and heard a remarkable- discourse, 
asserting, 'that we are justified by faith alone; but that this 
faith, which is the previous condition of justification, is the 
complex of all Christian virtues, including all holiness and 
good works in the very idea of it/ 

"Alas ! How little is the difference between asserting, 
either, 1. That we are justified by works, which is Popery 
barefaced; (and, indeed, so gross; that the sober Papists, 
those of the Council of Trent in particular, are ashamed of 
it ;) or, 2. That we are justified by faith and works, which 
is Popery refined or veiled; (but with so thin a veil, that 
every attentive observer must discern it is the same still ;) or, 
3. That we are justified by faith alone, but by such faith as 
includes all good works. j" What a poor shift is this : ' I will 
not say we are justified by works, nor yet by faith and works, 
because I have subscribed articles and homilies which main- 
tain just the contrary. Nq; I say, we are justified by faith 
alone. But then by faith I mean works !' " 

After visiting Bristol, he was recalled to London, to attend 
the last moments of his mother : " Friday, July 30th, about 
three in the afternoon, I went to my mother, and found her 
change was near. I sat down on the bedside. She was in 
her last conflict, unable to speak, but, I believe, quite sensi- 
ble. Her look was calm and serene, and her eyes fixed up- 
ward, while we commended her soul to God. From three to 
four, the silver cord was loosening, and the wheel breaking at 
the cistern ; and then, without any struggle, or sigh, or groan, 
the soul was set at liberty. We stood round the bed, and 

* Journal. 

f Although the faith which justifies does not include good works, 
it will, when it has justified us, produce and be followed by good 
works ; because it brings us into vital union with Christ. 


fulfilled her last request, uttered a little before she lost her 
speech, ' Children, as soon as I am released, sing a psalm of 
praise to God.' "* 

So decided a witness was this venerable and intellectual 
woman of the assurance of faith; a doctrine she had learned 
from her sons more clearly to understand. To their sound 
views, on this scriptural and important subject, the latter 
years of her life, and her death, gave a testimony which to 
them must have been, in the highest degree, delightful and 
encouraging. The following beautiful epitaph, written by 
her son Charles, was inscribed on her tombstone in Bunhill- 
Fields : 

"In sure and steadfast hope to rise, 
And claim her mansion in the skies, 
A Christian here her flesh laid down, 
The cross exchanging for a crown. 

True daughter of affliction, she, 
Inured to pain and misery, 
Mourned a long night of griefs and fears, 
A legal night of seventy years. 

The Father then revealed his Son, 
Him in the broken bread made known : 
She knew and felt her sins forgiven, 
And found the earnest of her heaven. 

Meet for the fellowship above, 
She heard the call, Arise, my love !' 
'I come,' her dying looks replied, 
-And lamb-like, as her Lord, she died." 

The labors of Mr. Charles Wesley had been very extended 
and arduous during the early, part of the year 1743 ; and, by 
the Divine blessing, eminently successful. From the west 
of England, he proceeded to the colliers of Staffordshire, who 
had before been visited, and found that the society at Wed- 
nesbury had increased to more than three hundred, of whose 
religious state he speaks in his Journal with strong feelings 
of joy. At Walsall, he preached on the market-house steps : — 

" The street was full . of fierce Ephesian beasts, (the prin- 
cipal man setting them on,) who roared, and shouted, and 

* Journal. 


threw stones, incessantly. At the conclusion, a stream of 
ruffians was suffered to beat me down from the steps : I rose ; 
and, having given the blessing, was beat down again ; and so 
a third time. When we had returned thanks to the God 
of our salvation, I then, from the steps, bid them depart in 
peace, and walked through the thickest of the rioters. They 
reviled us, but had no commission to touch a hair of our 

He then proceeded -to Birmingham, Nottingham, and then 
to Sheffield, Here the infant society was as a " flock among 
wolves ; the minister having so stirred up the people, that 
they were ready to tear the Methodists in pieces. At six 
o'clock I went to the society-house, next door to our brother 
Bennet's. Hell from beneath was moved to oppose us. As 
soon as I was in the desk, with David Taylor, the floods 
began to lift up their voice. An officer in the army contra- 
dicted and blasphemed. I took no notice of him, but sang 
on. The stones flew thick, striking the desk and the people. 
To save them and the house from being pulled down, I gave 
out that I should preach in the street, and look them in the 
face. The whole army of the aliens followed me. The 
Captain laid hold on me, and began rioting : I gave him for 
answer, 'A Word in Season ; or, Advice to a Soldier.' I then 
prayed, particularly for- His Majesty King George, and 
' preached the gospel with much contention/ The stones 
often struck me in the face. I prayed for sinners, as servants 
of their master, the devil ; upon which, the Captain ran at 
me with great fury, threatening revenge for abusing, as he 
called it, ' the King, his master.' He forced his way through 
the brethren, drew his sword, and presented it to my breast. 
I immediately opened my breast, and, fixing my eye on his, 
and smiling in his face, calmly said, ' I fear God, and honor 
the King.' His countenance fell in a moment : he fetched a 
deep sigh, and, putting up his sword, quietly left the place. 
He had said to one of the company, who afterwards informed 
me, ' You shall see, if I do but hold my sword to his breast, 
he will faint away.' So, perhaps, I should, had I only his 
principles to trust to; but if at that time I was not afraid, no 
thanks to my natural courage. We returned to our brother 
Bennet's, and gave ourselves up to prayer. The rioters fol- 
lowed, and exceeded in outrage all I have seen before. 


Those at Moorfields, Cardiff, and Walsall were lainbs to 
these. As there is no ' king in Israel/ I mean no magistrate 
in Sheffield, every man doeth as seemeth good in his own 
eyes." The mob now formed the design of pulling down the 
society-house, and set upon their work while Mr. Charles 
Wesley and the people were* praying and praising God within. 
"It was a glorious time/' says he, " with us : every word of 
exhortation sank deep, every prayer was sealed, and many 
found the Spirit of glory resting upon them." The next day 
the house was completely pulled down, not one stone being 
left upon another. He then preached again in the street, 
somewhat more quietly than before ; but the rioters became 
very noisy in the evening, and threatened to pull down the 
house where he lodged. He went out to them, and made a 
suitable exhortation ; and they soon afterwards separated, and 
peace was restored. 

At five the next morning, he took leave of the society in 
these words : " Confirming the souls of the disciples, and 
exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must 
thi'ough much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God." 
He observes, " Our hearts were knit together, and greatly 
comforted : we rejoiced in hope of the glorious appearing 
of the great God, who had now delivered us out of the mouth 
of the lions. David Taylor had informed me that the people 
of Thorpe, through which we should pass, were exceedingly 
mad against us. So we found them, as we approached the 
place, and were turning down the lane to Barley-Hall. The 
ambush rose, and assaulted us with stones, eggs, and dirt. 
My horse flew from side to side, till he found his way 
through them. They wounded David Taylor in the fore- 
head, and the wound bled much. I turned back, and asked 
what was the reason that a clergyman could not pass without 
such treatment. At first the rioters scattered; but tKeir 
captain, rallying them, answered with horrible imprecations 
and stones. My horse took fright, and turned away with me 
down a steep hill. The enemy pursued me from afar, and 
followed shouting. Blessed be God, I received no hurt, only 
from the eggs and dirt. ' My clothes indeed abhorred me/ 
and my arm pained me a little from a blow I received at 

* Journal. 


Such was the calm heroism with which these admirable 
men prosecuted their early labors : shrinking from no danger, 
and firmly trusting their lives in the hands of God. Proceed- 
ing to Leeds, Mr. Charles Wesley preached " to thousands/' 
before* Mr. Shent's door, and found the people " prepared -for 
the Lord." The clergy of Leeds treated him with respect 
and deference, and obliged- him to assist at the sacrament : 
such, indeed, was their kindness, that he began to .fear this 
gleam of sunshine "more than the stones at Sheffield." He 
then went on to Newcastle, where he not only abounded in 
public labors, but, as the society had rapidly increased, he in- 
stituted a strict investigation into their spiritual state, accu- 
rately distinguishing between animal emotions and the true 
work of God in the heart, and leading all to try themselves 
by the only infallible rule, their conformity to the word of 
God. So unjust are the insinuations that the founders of 
Methodism allowed excited affections to pass as admitted 
proofs of a change of heart ! On this visit to Newcastle, Mr. 
Charles Wesley remarks in his Journal, that, since he had 
preached the gospel, he had never had greater success than at 
this time at Newcastle. Soon after, his brother laid the 
foundation of a place for the public worship of the society, 
the size of which greatly startled some of the people, as they 
doubted whether money could be raised to finish it. " I was 
of another mind," he observes; "nothing doubting but, as 
it was begun for the Lord's sake, he would provide what was 
needful for finishing it." Many pecuniary difficulties arose 
in the completion of this work ; but he received timely sup- 
plies of money, sometimes from very unexpected quarters. 
During this year, new societies were formed in the western, 
midland, and northern counties, whilst those before collected 
continued greatly to increase. 

In the latter end of this year, 1743, Mr. Wesley appointed 
in London visitors of the sick, as a distinct office in his so- 
ciety. He says, " It was not long before the stewards found 
a great difficulty with .regard to the sick. Some were ready 
to perish before they knew of their illness. And when they 
did know, it was not in their power (being persons generally 
employed in trade) to visit them so often as they desired. 
When I was apprised of this, I laid the "case at large before 
the whole society; showed how impossible it was for the 


stewards to attend all that were sick in all parts of the town ; 
desired the leaders of the classes would more carefully in- 
quire, and more constantly inform them, who were sick ; and 
asked, Who among you is willing, as well as able, to supply 
this lack of service ? 

" The next morning, many willingly offered themselves, 
I chose six-and-forty of them, whom I judgeol to be of the 
most tender, loving spirit, divided the town into twenty-three 
parts, and desired two of them to' visit the sick in each divi- 

" It is the business of a visitor of the sick, 

" 1. To see every sick person within his district thrice a 
week. 2. To inquire into the state of their souls, and advise 
them as occasion may require. 3. To inquire into their dis- 
orders, and procure advice for them. -1. To relieve them, if 
they are in want. 5. To do any thing for them which he (or 
she) can do. 6. To bring in his account weekly to the stew- 
ard/' " Upon reflection, I saw how exactly in this also we 
had copied after the primitive Church. What were the an- 
cient deacons ? What was Phoebe, the deaconess, but such a 
visitor of the sick ? 

"I did not think it needful to give them any particular 
rules besides those that follow : 

"1. Be plain and open in dealing with souls. 2. Be mild, 
tender, patient. 3. Be cleanly in all you do for the sick. 
4. Be not niee." 

The same year was remarkable in the life of Mr. Wesley, 
for his escape from one of the most dangerous of his encoun- 
ters with deluded and infuriated mobs. It was first incited 
by a sermon preached in Wednesbury church, by the clergy- 
man. "I never," says Mr. Wesley, "heard so wicked a ser- 
mon, and delivered with such bitterness of voice and manner." 
Whilst Mr. Wesley was at Bristol, he heard of the effect pro- 
duced by this charitable address of the minister to his parish- 
ioners, who was assisted in stirring up the persecution against 
the society, as was very frequent in those days, by the neigh- 
boring magistrates — full of what they called churchmanship 
and loyalty. At Wednesbury, Darlaston, and West-Brom- 
wich, the mobs were stimulated to abuse the Methodists in 
the most outrageous manner; even women and children were 
beaten, stoned, and covered with mud ; their houses broken 


open, and their goods spoiled or carried away.* Mr. Wesley 
hastened to comfort and advise this -harassed people as soon 
as the intelligence reached him, and preached at noon at 
Wednesbury. without molestation j but in the afternoon the 
mob surrounded the house. The result will best be given 
from hie own account, which displays at once his own admir- 
able presence of mind, and the singular providence of God : — 

" I was writing at Francis Ward's in the afternoon, when 
the cry arose that the mob had beset the house. We prayed 
that God would disperse them ; and so it was : one went this 
way, another that, so that in half an hour not a man was left. 
I told our brethren, Now is the time to go ; but they pressed 
me exceedingly to stay. So, that I might not offend them, I 
sat down, though I foresaw what would follow. Before 'five 
the mob surrounded the house again, and in greater numbers 
than ever. The cry of one and all was, ' Bring out the min- 
ister ! We will have the minister!' I desired one to take the 
captain by the hand and bring him into the house. After a 
few sentences interchanged between us, the lion was become 
a lamb. I desired him to go, and bring one or two of the 
most angry of his companions. He brought in two, who were 
ready to swallow the ground with rage ; but in two minutes 
they were as calm as he. I then bade them make way, that 
I might go out among the people. As soon as I was in the 
midst of them, I called for a chair, and asked, 'What do any 
of you want with me V Some said, ' We want you to go with 
us to the justice.' I replied, ' That I will with all my heart/ 
I then spoke a few words, which God applied ; so that they 
cried out with might and main, ' The gentleman is an honest 
gentleman, and we will spill our blood in his defence/ I 
asked, 'Shall we go to the justice to-night, or in the morn- 
ing'/' Most of them cried, 'To-night, to-night!' on which I 
went before, and two or three hundred followed, the rest 
returning whence they came. 

" The night came on before we had walked a mile, together 
with heavy rain. However, on we went to Bentley-Hall, two 

* The descendants of some of these persecuted people still remain, 
and show, one a cupboard, another some other piece of furniture, the 
only article saved from the wreck, and preserved, with pious care, as 
a monument of the sufferings of their ancestors. 


miles from Wednesbury. One or two ran before, to tell Mr. 
Lane they had brought Mr. Wesley before his worship. Mr. 
Lane replied, ' What have I to do with Mr. Wesley ? Go 
and carry him back again.' By this time the main body 
came up, and began knocking at the door. A servant told 
them Mr. Lane was in bed. His son followed, and asked 
what was the matter. One replied, ' Why, an't please you, 
they sing psalms all day ; nay, and make folks rise at five in 
the morning; and what would your worship advise us to do?' 
1 To go home/ said Mr. Lane, ' and be quiet.' 

" Here they were at a full stop, till one advised to go to 
Justice Persehouse, at Walsall. All agreed to this; so we 
hastened on, and about seven came to his house. But Mr. 
Persehouse also sent word that he was in bed. Now they 
were at a stand again; but at last they all thought it the 
wisest course to make the best of their way home. About 
fifty of them undertook to convoy me ; but we had not gone 
a hundred yards, when the mob of Walsall came pouring in 
like a flood, and bore down all before them. The Darlaston 
mob made what defence they could ; but they were weary, 
as well as outnumbered; so that, in a short time, many 
being knocked down, the rest went away, and left me in their 

" To attempt speaking was vain, for the noise on every side 

was like the roaring of the sea; so they dragged me along 

till we came to the town, where seeing the door of a large 

house open, I attempted to go in ; but a man catching me by 

the hair, pulled me back into the middle of the mob. They 

made no more stop till they had carried me through the main 

street, from one end of the town to the other. I continued 

speaking all the time to those within hearing, feeling no pain 

or weariness. At the west end of the town, seeing a door 

half open, I made toward it, and would have gone in, but a 

gentleman in the shop would not suffer me, saying they would 

pull the house to the ground. However, I stood at the door, 

and asked, 'Are you willing to hear me speak ?' Many cried 

out, * No, no ! knock his brains out ! Down with him ! Kill 

him at once !' Others said, ' Nay, but we will hear him first.' 

I began asking, 'What evil have I done? Which of you all 

have I wronged in word or deed ?' and continued speaking 

for above a quarter of an hour, till my voice suddenly failed. 


Then the floods began to lift up their voice again ; many cry- 
ing out, ' Bring him away ! bring him away !' 

" In the mean time my strength and my voice returned, 
and I broke out aloud into prayer. And now the man who 
just before headed the mob, turned and said, ' Sir, I will 
spend my life for you : follow me, and not one soul here shall 
touch a hair of your head.' Two or three of his fellows con- 
firmed his words, and go't close to me immediately. At the 
same time the gentleman in the shop cried out, "'For shame, 
for shame ! let him go !' An honest butcher, who was a little 
farther off, said it was a shame they should do thus ; and 
pulled back four or five, one after another, who were running 
on the most fiercely. The people then, as if it had been by 
common consent, fell back to the right and left; while those 
three or four men took me between them, and carried me 
through them all ; but on the bridge the mob rallied again ; 
we therefore went on one side, over the milldam, and thence 
through the meadows, till, a little before ten, Grqd brought me 
safe to Wednesbury ; having lost only one flap of my waist- 
coat, and a little skin from one of my hands. 

" From the beginning to the end, I found the same pre- 
sence of mind as if I had been sitting in my own study. 
But I took no thought for one moment before another; only 
once it came into my mind, that if they should throw me into 
the river, it would spoil the papers that were in my pocket. 
For myself, I did not doubt but I should swim across, having 
but a thin coat, and a light pair of boots. 

" The circumstances that follow I thought were particularly 
remarkable : 1. That many endeavored to throw me down 
while we were going down-hill, on a slippery path, to the 
town ; as well judging, that if I was once on the ground I 
should hardly rise any more. But I made no stumble at all, 
nor the least slip, till I was entirely out of their hands. 2. 
That although many strove to lay hold on my collar or clothes 
to pull me down, they could not fasten at all : only one got 
fast hold of the flap of my waistcoat, which was soon left in 
his hand. 3. That a lusty man just behind struck at me 
several times with a large oaken stick; with which if he had 
struck me once on the back part of my head, it would have 
saved him all further trouble ; but every time the blow was 
turned aside, I know not how. 4. That another came rush- 


ing through the press, and, raising his arm to strike, on a 
sudden let it drop, and only stroked my head, saying, 'What 
soft hair he has !' 5. That I stopped exactly at the mayor's 
door, as if I had known it, which the mob doubtless thought 
I did, and found him standing in the shop ; which gave the 
first check to the madness of the people. 6. That the very 
first men whose hearts were turned were the heroes of the 
town, the captains of the rabble on all occasions ; one of them 
having been a prize-fighter at the bear-gardens. 7. That 
from first to last I heard none give a reviling word, or call 
me any opprobrious name whatever. But the cry of one and 
all was, ' The preacher ! the preacher ! the parson ! the min- 
ister !' 8. That no creature, at least within my hearing, laid 
any thing to my charge, either true or false ; having, in the 
hurry, quite forgot to provide themselves with an accusation 
of any kind. And, lastly, they were utterly at a loss what 
they should do with me, none proposing any determinate 
thing, only, 'Away, with him ! kill him at once !' 

" When I came back to Francis Ward's, I found many of 
our brethren waiting upon God. Many also, whom I had 
never seen before, came to rejoice with us; and the next morn- 
ing, as I rode through the town, in my way to Nottingham, 
every one I met expressed such a cordial affection, that I could 
scarce believe what I saw and heard." 

At Nottingham he met with Mr. Charles Wesley, who has 
inserted in his Journal a notice of the meeting, highly char- 
acteristic of the spirit of martyrdom in which both of them 
lived : 

"My brother came, delivered out of the mouth of the 
lions ! His clothes were torn to tatters : he looked like a 
soldier of Christ. The mob of Wednesbury, Darlaston, and 
Walsall, were permitted to take and carry him about for seve- 
ral hours, with a full intent to murder him ; but his work is 
not yet finished, or he had .been now with the souls under the 
altar." Undaunted by the usage of John, Charles immedi- 
ately set out for Wednesbury, to encourage the societies. 

In this year Mr. Wesley made his first journey into Corn- 
wall, where his brother had preceded him, led by the same 
sympathies to communicate the gospel to the then rude and 
neglected miners of that extreme part of the kingdom, as had 
induced him to visit the colliers of Kingswood, Staffordshire, 


and the north. Here he had preached in various places, some- 
times amidst mobs, "as desperate as that at Sheffield. " Mr. 
Wesley followed in August, and came to St. Ives, where he 
found a small religious society, which had been formed upon 
Dr. Woodward's plan. t They gladly received him, and formed 
the nucleus of the Methodist societies in Cornwall, which 
from this time rapidly increased. In this visit he spent three 
weeks, preaching in the most populous parts of the mining' 
district, with an effect which still continues to be felt. In no 
part of England has Methodism obtained more influence than 
in the west of Cornwall. It has become, in fact, the leading 
profession of the people; and its moral effects upon society 
may be looked upon with the highest satisfaction and grati- 
tude. Nor were the Cornish people ungrateful to the instru- 
ment of the benefit. When he was last in the county, in old 
age, the man who had formerly slept on the ground for want 
of a lodging, and picked blackberries to satisfy his hunger, 
and who had nacrowly escaped with his life from a desperate 
mob at Falmouth, passed through the towns and villages as in 
a triumphal march, whilst the windows were crowded with 
people, anxious to get a sight of him, and to pronounce upon 
him their benedictions. 

Between this visit and that of the next year, a hot perse- 
cution, both of the preachers and people, broke forth. The 
preaching-house at St. Ives was pulled down to the ground; 
one of the preachers was impressed and sent for a soldier, as 
were several of the people; whilst being stoned, covered with 
dirt, and abused, was the treatment which many others of 
them met with from day to day. But, notwithstanding this, 
they who had been eminent for hurling, fighting, drinking, 
and all manner of wickedness, continued eminent for sobriety, 
piety, and meekness. The impressment of the preachers for 
soldiers by the magistrates was not, however, confined to Corn- 
wall. About the same time, John Nelson and Thomas Beard 
were thus seized and sent for soldiers, for no other crime, 
either committed or pretended, than that of calling sinners to 
repentance. The passive heroism of John Nelson is well 
known. Thomas Beard, also, was "nothing terrified by his 
adversaries;" but his body after a while sank under affliction. 
He was then lodged in the hospital of Newcastle, where he 
still praised God continually. His fever increasing, he was 


let blood; Lis arm festered, mortified, and was cut off; two 
or three days after which, Gk>d signed his discharge, and 
called him to his eternal home. 

The riots in Staffordshire, also, still continued. " The mob 
of Walsall, Darlaston, and Wednesbury, hired for the purpose 
by their superiors, broke open their poor neighbors' houses 
at their pleasure by day and by night ; extorting money from 
'the few that had it, taking away or destroying their victuals 
and goods, beating and wounding their bodies, insulting the 
women, and openly declaring they would destroy every Method- 
ist in the country. Thus His Majesty's peaceable and loyal 
subjects were treated for eight months, and were then publicly 
branded in the Whitehall and London Evening Post, for riot- 
ers and incendiaries !"* 

Several other instances of the briital maltreatment of the 
preachers occurred in these early periods, which ended in 
disablement or premature death. The persecution at St. Ives, 
Mr. Wesley observes, " was owing in great measure to the 
indefatigable labors of Mr. Hoblin and Mr. Simmons, gentle- 
men worthy to be had in everlasting remembrance for their 
unwearied endeavors to destroy heresy. 

'Fortunati ambo ! Siquid meet pagina possit, 
Nulla dies unquam memori vos eximet cevo.' 

" Happy both ! Long as my writings shall your fame 

In August, 1744, Mr. John Wesley preached for the last 
time before the University of Oxford. Mr. Charles Wesley 
was present, and observes in his Journal : "My brother bore 
his testimony before a crowded audience, much increased by 
the races. Never have I seen a more attentive congregation : 
they did not suffer a word to escape them. Some of the 
heads of colleges stood up the whole time, and fixed their 
eyes upon him. If they can endure sound doctrine, like his, 
he will surely leave a blessing behind him. The Vice-Chan- 
cellor sent after him, and desired his notes, which he sealed 
up and sent immediately." 

His own remarks upon this occasion are, "I am now clear 
of the blood .of those men. I have fully delivered my own 

* Whitehead's Life. 


soul. And I am well pleased that it should be the very day 
on which, in the last century, near two thousand burning and 
shining lights were put out at one stroke. Yet what a wide 
difference is there between their ease and mine ! They were 
turned out of house and home, and all that they had ; whereas 
I am only hindered from preaching in one place, without any 
other loss, and that in a kind of honorable manner; it being 
determined that, when my next turn to preach came, they 
would pay another person to preach for me. And so they 
did twice or thrice, even to the time I resigned' my fellow- 

Mr. Wesley had, at this time a correspondence with the 
Rev. James Erskine, from whom he learned that several pious 
ministers and others in Scotland duly appreciated his charac- 
ter, and rejoiced in the success of his labors, notwithstanding 
the difference of their sentiments. Mr. Erskine's letter, in- 
deed, contains a paragraph which breathes a liberality not very 
common in those days, and which may be useful in the pre- 
sent, after all our boastings of enlarged charity : "Are the 
points which give the different denominations (to Christians,) 
and from whence "proceed separate communities, animosities, 
evil-speakings, surmises, and, at least, coolness of affection, 
aptness to misconstrue, slowness to think well of others, stiff- 
ness in one's own conceits, and overvaluing one's own opinion, 
etc., etc., are these points (at least, among the far greatest 
part of Protestants) as important, as clearly revealed, and as 
essential, or as closely connected with the essentials of prac- 
tical Christianity, as the loving of one another with a pure 
heart fervently, and not forsaking, much less refusing, the 
assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some was, 
and now of almost all is?"f 

In a subsequent letter, this excellent man. expresses an 
ardent wish for union among all those of different denomina- 
tions and opinions who love the Lord Jesus Christ; and on 
such a.subject he was speaking to a kindred mind; for no 
man ever set a better example of Christian charity, and 
nowhere is the excellence and obligation of that temper more 
forcibly drawn and inculcated than in his most interesting 

1 t — ♦■ i 

* Journal. f Ibid. 


sermon on "A Catholic Spirit." With such a testimony and 
example before them, his followers would be the most inex- 
cusable class of Christians, were they to indulge in that selfish 
sectarianism with which he was so often unjustly charged; 
and for which they, though not faultless in this respect, have 
also been censured more frequently and indiscriminately than 
they have merited. It would scarcely be doing justice to this 
part of Mr. Wesley's character, not to insert an extract from 
the sermon alluded to : — 

. " Is thy heart right with God ? If it be, give me thy 
hand. I do not mean, ' Be of my opinion/ You need not. 
I do not expect or desire it. Neither do I mean, ' I will be 
of your opinion.' I cannot. It does not depend on my 
choice : I can no more think, than I can see or hear, as I 
will. Keep you your opinion ; I mine ; and that as steadily 
as ever. You need not endeavor to come over to me, or 
bring me over to you. I do not desire you to dispute those 
points, or to hear or speak one word concerning them. Let 
all opinions alone on one side and the other. Only ' give me 
thine hand.' 

" I do not mean, ' embrace my modes of worship ;' or, ' I 
^ill embrace yours.' This, also, is a thing which does not 
depend either on your choice or mine. We must both act as 
each is fully persuaded in his own mind. Hold you fast that 
which you believe is most acceptable to G-od; and I will do 
the same. I believe the Episcopal form of Church-government 
to be scriptural and apostolical. If you think the Presbyte- 
rian or Independent is better, think so still, and act accord- 
ingly. I believe infants ought to be baptized, and that this 
may be done either by dipping or sprinkling. If you are 
otherwise persuaded, be so still, and follow your own persua- 
sion. It appears to me that forms- of prayer are of excellent 
use, particularly in the great congregation. If you judge 
extemporary prayer to be of more use, act suitable to your 
own judgment. My sentiment is, that I ought not to forbid 
water, wherein persons may be baptized ; and that I ought to 
eat bread and drink wine, as memorials of my dying Master. 
However, if you are not convinced of this, act according to 
the light you have. I have no desire to dispute with you^one 
moment upon any of the preceding heads. Let all these 
smaller points stand aside. Let them never come into sight. 


( If thine heart be as my heart/ if thou love God and all 
mankind, I ask no more : ' Give me thy hand/ 

" I mean, first, love me. And that not only as thou lovest 
all mankind ; not only as thou lovest thine enemies, or the 
enemies of God, those that hate thee, that l despitefully use 
thee and persecute thee ;' not only as a stranger, as one of 
whom thou knowest neither good nor evil. I am not satisfied 
with this. No : ' If thine heart be right, as mine with thy 
heart/ then love me with a very tender affection, as a friend 
that is closer than a brother, as a brother in Christ, a fellow- 
citizen of the New Jerusalem, a fellow-soldier engaged in the 
same warfare, under the same Captain of our salvation. Love 
me as a companion in the kingdom and patience of Jesus, 
and a joint-heir of his glory. 

" Love me (but in a higher degree than thou dost the bulk 
of mankind) with the love that is 'long-suffering and kind/ 
that is patient, if I am ignorant or out of the way, bearing 
and not increasing my burden; and is tender, soft/and com- 
passionate still; that'envieth not/ if at any time it please 
God to prosper me in this work even more than thee. Love 
me with the love that ' is not provoked/ either" at my follies 
or infirmities, or even at my acting (if it should sometimes so 
appear to thee) not according to the will of God. Love me 
so as to ' think no evil' of nve, to put away all jealousy and 
evil surmising. Love me with the love that ' covereth all 
things / that never reveals either my faults or infirmities ; 
that ' believeth all things/ is always willing to think the best, 
to put the fairest construction on all my words and actions; 
that ' hopeth all things / either that the thing related was 
never done, or not done with such circumstances as are 
related ; or, at least, that it was done with a good intention, 
or in a sudden stress of temptation. And hope to the end, 
that whatever is amiss will, by the grace of God, be corrected, 
and whatever is wanting supplied, through the riches of his 
mercy in Christ Jesus."* 

And then, having shown how a catholic spirit differs from 
practical and speculative latitudinarianism and indifference, he 
concludes : "A man of a catholic spirit is one who, in the 
manner above-mentioned, ' gives his hand' to all whose ' hearts 

W\ — r- -rn-TMBi iimii 1.111111 1111 1 ■■■ 1 1 h i III I _ * - 

* Sermons. 


are right with his heart.' One who knows how to value and 
praise God for all the advantages he enjoys, with regard to the 
knowledge of the things of God, the true scriptural manner 
of worshipping him ; and, above all, his union with a congre- 
gation fearing God and working righteousness. One who, 
retaining these blessings with the strictest care, keeping them 
as the apple of his eye, at the same time loves as friends, as 
brethren in the Lord, as members of Christ and children of 
God, as joint partakers now of the present kingdom of God, 
and fellow-heirs of his eternal kingdom, all, of whatever 
opinion, or worship, or congregation, who believe in the Lord 
Jesus Christ, who love God and man, who, rejoicing to please 
and fearing to ofiFend God, are careful to abstain from evil, 
and zealous of good works. He is the man of a truly catholic 
spirit, who bears all these continually upon his heart ; who, 
having an unspeakable tenderness for their persons, and long- 
ing for their welfare, does not cease to commend them to God 
in prayer, as well as to plead their cause before men ; who 
speaks comfortably to them, and labors, by all his words, to 
strengthen their hands in God. He assists them to the utter- 
most of his power in all things, spiritual and temporal. He 
is. ready ' to spend and be spent' for them ; yea, ' to lay down 
his life for their sake.' "* 

The first Conference was held in June, 1744. The socie- 
ties had spread through various parts of the kingdom ; and 
a number of preachers, under the name of assistants and 
helpers, the former being superintendents of the latter, had 
been engaged by Mr. Wesley in the work. Some clergy- 
men, also, more or less cooperated to promote these attempts 
to spread the flame of true religion, and were not yet afraid 
of the cross. These circumstances led to the distribution of 
different parts of the kingdom into circuits, to which certain 
preachers were for a time appointed, and were then removed 
to others. The superintendence of the whole was in the two 
brothers, but particularly in Mr. John Wesley. The annual 
Conferences afforded, therefore, an admirable opportunity of 
conversing on important points and distinctions of doctrine, 
that all might "speak the same thing" iu their public minis- 
trations, and of agreeing upon such a discipline as the new 

* Sermons. 


circumstances in which the societies were placed might re- 
quire. The labors of the preachers for the ensuing year were 
also arranged ; and consultation was held on all matters con- 
nected with the promotion of the work of God in which they 
were engaged. Every thing went on, however, not on a pre- 
conceived plan, but "step by step," as circumstances sug- 
gested and led the way. To the great principle of doing 
good to the souls of men every thing was subordinated ; not 
excepting even their prejudices and fears, as will appear from 
the 5linutes of the first Conference, which was held in Lon- 
don, as just stated, in 1744. The ultimate separation of the 
societies from the Church, after the death of the first agents 
in the work, was at that early period contemplated as a possi- 
bility, aud made a subject of conversation; and the resolution 
was, " We do and will do all we can to prevent those conse- 
quences which are supposed to be likely to happen after our 
death ; but we cannot in good conscience neglect the present 
opportunity of saving souls while we live, for fear of conse- 
quences which may possibly, or probably, happen after we are 
dead." To this principle Mr. Wesley was "faithful unto 
death," and it is the true key to his public conduct. His 
brother, after some years, less steadily adhered to it; and 
most of the clergymen who attached themselves to Mr. Wes- 
ley in the earlier periods of Methodism, found it too bold a 
position, and one which exposed them to too severe a fire, to 
be maintained by them. It required a firmer courage than 
theirs to hold out at such a post; but the founder of Method- 
ism never betrayed the trust which circumstances had laid 
upon him. 



Mr. Charles Wesley's labors in Cornwall, Kent, Staffordshire, and the 
north of England — Persecution at Devizes — Remarks — Mr. Wesley 
at Newcastle — His statement of the case between the clergy and 
the Methodists — Remarks — Labors in Lincolnshire, etc. — Persecu- 
tions in Cornwall — Count Zinzendorf — Dr. Doddridge — Mr. Wesley 
a writer of tracts — His sentiments on Church Government — Ex- 
tracts from the Minutes of the early Conferences — Remarks — Mr. 
Wesley's labors in different parts of the kingdom — His zeal to dif- 
fuse useful knowledge — Mobs in Devonshire — Visits Ireland — Suc- 
ceeded there by his brother — Persecutions in Dublin. 

The year 1745 was chiefly spent by Mr. Charles Wesley in 
London, Bristol, and Wales. In the early part of the next 
year, he paid a visit to a society raised up by Mr. Whitefield 
at Plymouth, and from thence proceeded into Cornwall, where 
he preached in various places with great success, but in some 
of them amidst much persecution. He reviewed this journey 
with great thankfulness, because of the effects which had been 
produced by his ministry • and at the close of it he wrote the 
hymn beginning with the stanza : 

"All thanks be to God, 

Who scatters abroad 

Throughout every place, 
By the least of his servants, his savor of grace : 

Who the victory gave, 

The praise let him have ; 

For the work he hath done ; 
All honor and glory to Jesus alone !" 

On his return to London, through the introduction of Mr. 
R. Perronet, a pious young man, he visited the Rev. Vincent 


Perronet, the venerable Vicar of Shorehain, in Kent, a very 
holy and excellent clergyman, of whose wise and considerate 
counsels the Wesleys afterwards frequently availed them- 
selves, in all matters which involved particular difficulty. 
The name of Wesley was, however, it seems, everywhere 
become a signal for riot ; for, being invited to perform service 
in Shorehain church, a As soon/' says he, "as I began to 
preach, the, wild beasts began roaring, stamping, blasphem- 
ing, ringing the bells, and turning the church into a bear- 
garden. I spoke on for half an hour, though only the nearest 
could hear. The rioters followed, us to Mr. Perronet' s 
house, raging, threatening, and throwing stones. Charles 
Perronet hung over me to intercept the blows. They con- 
tinued their uproar after we got into the house."* Mr. E. 
Perronet returned with him to London, and accompanied 
him on a tour to the north. On the way they visited Staf- 
fordshire, which was still riotous and persecuting ; and Mr. 
Charles Wesley's young friend had a second specimen of the 
violent and ignorant prejudice with whieh these modern 
apostles were followed. The mob beset the house at Tipton- 
Green, and, beating at the door, demanded entrance. " I sat 
still," says he, " in the midst of them for half an hour, and 
was a little concerned for E. Perronet, lest such rough treat- 
ment, at his first setting out, should daunt him. But he 
abounded in»valor, and was for reasoning with the wild beasts 
before they had spent any of their violence. He got a deal 
of abuse thereby, and not a little dirt; both of which he 
took vary patiently. I had no design to preach ; but being 
called upon by so unexpected a congregation, I rose at last, 
and read, ' When the Son of man shall come in his glory, 
and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit on the 
throne of his glory/ While I reasoned with them of judg- 
ment to come, they grew calmer by little and little. I then 
spake to them, one by one, till the Lord had disarmed them 
all. One who stood out the longest, I held by the hand, and 
urged the love of Christ cruciiied, till, in spite of botli his 
natural and diabolical courage, he trembled like a leaf. I 
was constrained to break out into prayer for him. Our leo- 
pards were all become lambs • and very kind we were at part- 

* Journal. 


ing. Near midnight the house was clear and quiet. We 
gave thanks to Grod for our salvation, and slept in peace."* 

Proceeding onward to Dewsbury, he met with an instance 
of clerical candor, which, as it was rare in those times, 
deserves to be recorded : " The minister did not condemn 
the society unheard, but talked with them, examined into the 
doctrine they had been taught, and its effects on their lives. 
When he found that as many as had been affected by the 
preaching were evidently reformed, and brought to church and 
sacrament, he testified his approbation of the work, and re- 
joiced that sinners were converted to Grod."j" 

After visiting Newcastle, he went, at the request of Mr. 
Wardrobe, a Dissenting minister, to Hexham, where the 
following incidents occurred : — " I walked directly to the 
market-place, and called sinners to repentance. A multitude 
of them stood staring at me, but all quiet. The Lord opened 
my mouth, and they drew nearer and nearer, stole off their 
hats, and listened ; none offered to interrupt, but one unfor- 
tunate esquire, who could get no one to second him. His 
servants and the constables hid themselves ; one he found, 
and bid him go and take me down. The poor constable 
simply answered, ' Sir, I cannot have the face to do it ; for 
what harm does he do V Several Papists attended, and the 
Church minister who had refused me his pulpit with indigna- 
tion. However, he came to hear with his own e*ars. I wish 
all who hang us first, would, like him, try us afterwards. 

"I walked back to Mr. Ord's through the people, who 
acknowledged, ' It is the truth, and none can speak against 
it/ A constable followed, and told me, < Sir Edward Blacket 
orders you to disperse the town/ (depart, I suppose he 
meant,) 'and not raise a disturbance here.' I sent my re- 
spects to Sir Edward, and said, if he would give me leave, I 
would wait upon him and satisfy him. He soon returned 
with an answer, that Sir Edward would have nothing to say 
to me ; but if I preached again, and raised a disturbance, he 
would put the law in execution against me. I answered that 
I was not conscious of breaking any law of God or man; 
but, if I did, I was ready to suffer the penalty; that, as 
1 had not given notice of preaching again at the Cross, I 

* Journal. f Whitehead's Life. 


should not preach again at that place, nor cause a disturbance 
anywhere. I charged the constable, a trembling, submissive 
soul, to assure his worship that I reverenced him for his 
office' sake. The only place I could get to preach in was a 
cock-pit; and I expected Satan would coirie and fight me on 
his own ground. 'Squire Roberts, the justice's son, labored 
hard to raise a mob, for which I was to be answerable ; but 
the very boys ran away from him, when the poor 'squire per- 
suaded them to go down to the cock-pit and cry fire. I 
called, in words then first heard in that place, ' Repent, and 
be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.' God struck 
the hard rock, and the waters gushed out. Never have I 
seen a people more desirous of knowing the truth at the 
first hearing. I passed the evening in conference with Mr. 
Wardrobe. that all. our Dissenting ministers were like- 
minded! then would all dissensions cease for ever! Novem- 
ber 28th, at six, we assembled again in our chapel, the cock- 
pit. I imagined myself in the Pantheon, or some heathen 
temple, and almost scrupled" preaching there at first; but 
we found ' the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof.' 
His presence consecrated the place. Never have I found a 
greater sense of God than while we were repeating his own 
prayer. I set before their eyes Christ crucified. The rocks 
were melted, and gracious tears flowed. We knew not how 
to part. I distributed some books among them, which they 
received with the utmost eagerness, begging me to come again, 
and to send our preachers to them."* 

After preaching in various parts of Lincolnshire, and the 
midland counties, Mr. Charles Wesley returned to London ; 
but soon, with unwearied spirit, in company with Mr. Minton, 
he set off for Bristol, taking Devizes by the way, where he 
had as narrow an escape for his life as his brother had expe- 
rienced at Wednesbury. An account of these distinguished 
ministers of Christ would be imperfect without a particular 
notice of a few of their greatest perils. They show the 
wretched state of that country which they were the appointed 
instruments of raising into a higher moral and civil condution, 
and they illustrate their own character. Each of the brothers 
might truly say, with an apostle and his coildjutors, " We 

* Journal. 


have" not received the spirit of fear, but of power/' (cour- 
age,) " of love, and of a sound mind." They felt, too, that 
they had "received" it; for, with them, "boasting was 
excluded" by that "law of faith" which led them in all 
things to trust in and to -glorify God. The account is taken 
from Mr. Charles Wesley's Journal. The Devizes mob had 
this peculiarity, that it was led on, not only by the curate, 
but by two Dissenters : thus " Herod and Pilate were made 
friends :" — 

" February 25th. A day never to be forgotten. At seven 
o'clock I walked quietly to Mrs. Philips's, and began preach- 
ing a little before the time appointed. For three quarters 
of an hour I invited a 'few listening sinners to Christ. Soon 
after, Satan's whole army assaulted the house. We sat in a 
little ground-room, and ordered all the doors to be thrown 
open. They brought a hand-engine, and began to play into 
the house. We kept our seats, and they rushed into the 
passage. Just then, Mr. Borough, the constable, came ; and 
seizing the spout of the engine, carried it off. They swore 
if he did not deliver it, they would pull down the house. At 
that time they might have taken us prisoners : we were close 
to them, and none to interpose ; but they hurried out to fetch 
the larger engine. In the mean time, we were advised to 
send for the mayor; but Mr. Mayor was gone out of town, 
in the sight of the people, which gave great encouragement 
to those who were already wrought up to a proper pitch by 
the curate and the gentlemen of the town, particularly Mr. 
Sutton and Mr. Willey, Dissenters, the two leading men. 
Mr. Sutton frequently came out to the mob to keep up their 
spirits. He sent word to Mrs. Philips, that if she did not 
turn that fellow out to the mob, he would send them to drag 
him out. Mr. Willey passed by again and again, assuriug 
the rioters he would stand by them, and secure them from the 
law, do what they would. 

"The rioters now began playing the larger engine, which 
broke the windows, flooded the rooms, and spoiled the o-oods. 
We were withdrawn to a small upper room in the back part 
of the house, seeing; no way to escape their violence, as they 
seemed under the full power of the old murderer. They first 
laid hold on the man who kept the society-house drao-o-ed him 
away, and threw him into the horse-pond, and, it was said, 


broke his back. We gave ourselves unto prayer, believing 
the Lord would deliver us — how, or when, we saw not, nor 
any possible way of escaping : we therefore stood still to see 
the salvation -of God. Every now and .then some or other 
of our friends would venture to us, but rather weakened our 
hands, so that we were forced to stop our ears and look up. 
Among the rest, the mayor's maid came, and told us her 
mistress was in tears about me, and begged me to disguise 
myself in women's clothes, and try to make my escape. Her 
heart had been turned towards us by the conversion of her 
son, just on the brink of ruin. God laid his hand on the 
poor prodigal, and, instead of running to sea, he entered the 
society. The rioters without continued playing their engine, 
which diverted them for some time ; but their number and 
fierceness still increased; and .the gentlemen supplied them 
with pitchers of ale, as much as they would drink. They 
were now on the point of breaking in, when Mr. Borough 
thought of reading the proclamation : he did so at the hazard 
of his life. In less than the hour, of above a thousand wild 
beasts, none were left but the guard. Our constable had ap- 
plied to Mr. Street, the only justice in town, who would not 
act. We found there was no help in man, which drove us 
closer to the Lord; and we prayed with little intermission 
the whole day. 

" Our enemies at their return made their main assault at 
the back-door, swearing horribly they would have me if it cost 
them their lives. Many seeming accidents concurred to pre- 
vent their breaking in. The man of the house came home, 
and, instead of turning me out, as they expected, took part 
with us, and stemmed the tide for some time. They now 
got a notion that I had made my escape, and ran down to the 
iun, and played the engine there. They forced the innkeeper 
to turn out our horses, which he immediately sent to Mr. 
Clark's, which drew the rabble and their engine thither. 
But the resolute old man charged and presented his gun, 
till they retreated. Upon their revisiting us, we stood in 
jeupardy every moment. Such threatenings, curses, and 
blasphemies, 1 have never heard. They seemed kept out 
"by a continual miraple. I remembered the Koman senators, 
sitting in the Forum, when the Gauls broke in upon them, 
but thought there was a fitter posture for Christians, and 


told my companion they should take us off our knees. 
We were kept from all hurry and discomposure of spirit by 
a Divine power resting upon us. We prayed and conversed 
as freely as if we had been in the midst of our brethren, 
and had great confidence that the Lord would either deliver 
us from the danger, or in it. In the height of the storm, 
just when we were falling into the hands of the drunken, 
enraged multitude, Mr. Minton was so little disturbed, that 
he fell fast asleep. 

"They were now close to us on every side, and over our 
heads, untiliug the roof. A ruffian cried out, ' Here they 
are, behind the curtain/ At this time we fully expected 
their appearance, and retired to the furthermost coruer of the 
room ; and I said, ' This is the crisis.' In that moment Jesus 
rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 
We heard not a breath without, and wondered what was 
become of them. The silence lasted for three quarters of an 
hour, before any one came near us ; and we continued in 
mutual exhortation and prayer, looking for deliverance. I 
often told my companions, ' Now God is at work for us : he 
is contriving our escape. He caji turn these leopards into 
lambs; can command the heathen to bring his children on 
their shoulders, and make our fiercest enemies the instruments 
of our deliverance.' About three o'clock Mr. Clark knocked 
at the door, and brought with him the persecuting constable. 
He said, ' Sir, if you will promise never to preach here again, 
the gentlemen and I will engage to bring you safe out of 
town/ My answer was, ' I shall promise no such thing. 
Setting aside my office, I will not give up my birthright, as 
an Englishman, of visiting what place I please of His Ma- 
jesty's dominions/ 'Sir,' said the constable, 'we expect no 
such promise, that you will never come here again : only tell 
me that it is not your present intention, that I may tell the 
gentlemen, who will then secure your quiet departure.' I 
answered, ' I cannot come again at this time, because I must 
return- to London a week hence. But, observe, I make no 
promise of not preaching here when the door is opened ; and 
do not you say I do/ 

" He went away with this answer, and we betook ourselves 
to prayer and thanksgiving. We perceived it was the Lord's 
doing, and it was marvellous in our eyes. The hearts of our 


adversaries were turned. Whether pity for us, or fear for 
themselves, wrought strongest, -God knoweth; probably the 
latter ; for the mob were wrought up to such a pitch of fury, 
that their masters dreaded the consequence, and therefore 
went about appeasing the multitude, and charging them not 
to touch us in our departure. 

" While the constable was gathering his posse, we got our 
things from Mr. Clark's, and prepared to go forth. The whole 
multitude were without expecting us, and saluted us with a 
general shout. The man Mrs. Naylor had hired to ride before 
her was, as we now perceived, one of the rioters. This hope- 
ful guide was to conduct us out of the reach of his fellows. 
Mr. Minton and I took horse in the face of our enemies, who 
began clamoring against us ; the gentlemen were dispersed 
among the mob, to bridle them. We rode a slow pace up 
the street, the whole multitude pouring along on both sides, 
and attending us with loud acclamations. Such fierceness 
and diabolical malice I have not before seen in human faces. 
They ran up to our horses as if they would swallow us, but 
did not know which was Wesley. We felt great peace and 
acquiescence in the honor done us, while the whole town 
were spectators of our march. When out of sight we mended 
our pace; and, about seven o'clock, came to Wrexall. The 
news of our danger was got thither before us \ but we brought 
the welcome tidings of our deliverance. We joined in hearty 
prayer to our Deliverer, singing the hymn, 

'Worship, and thanks, and blessing,' etc. 

" February 26. I preached at Bath, and we rejoiced like 
men who take the spoil. We continued our triumph at Bris- 
tol, and reaped the fruits of our labors and sufferings." 

Amidst such storms, more or less violent, were the founda- 
tions of that work laid, the happy results of which tens of 
thousands now enjoy in peace. But even the piety which 
could hazard such labors and dangers for the sake of " seek- 
ing and saving the lost," and the heroic devotedness which 
remained constant under them, have not been able to win for 
them the praise of prejudiced writers on the subject of Me- 
thodism. Dr. Southey* has little sympathy with the suffer- 

* Life of Wesley. 


ings which a persecuted people were doomed in many places 
so callously to endure; and he finds in the heroism of their 
leaders a subject of reproach and contempt, rather than of that 
admiration which, had they occupied some poetical position, 
he had doubtless expressed as forcibly and nobly as 'any man. 

Mr. Whitefield, he tells us, had u a great longing to be 
persecuted;" though the quotation from one of his letters, on 
which he justifies the aspersion, shows nothing more than a 
noble defiance of suffering, should it occur in the course of 
what he esteemed his duty. Similar sarcasms have been cast 
by infidels upon all who, in every age, have suffered for the 
sake of Christ; and, like those in which Dr. Southey has 
indulged, they were intended to darken. the lustre of that 
patient courage which sprang out of love to the Saviour and 
the souls of men, by resolving it into" spiritual pride, and a 
desire to render themselves conspicuous. Of John Nelson, 
one of Mr. "Wesley's first lay-coadjutors, who endured no 
ordinary share of oppression and suffering, as unprovoked and 
unmerited as the most modest and humble demeanor on his 
part could render it, Dr. Southey truly says, that "he had as 
high a spirit, and as brave a heart, as ever Englishman was 
blessed with;" yet even the narration of his wrongs, so scan- 
dalous to the magistracy of the day, and* which were sustained 
by him in the full spirit of Christian constancy, is not dis- 
missed without a sneer at this honest and suffering: man him- 
self: "To prison, therefore. Nelson was taken, to his heart's 
content." And so, because he chose a prison rather than 
violate his conscience, and endured imprisonments and other 
injuries, with the unbending feeling of a high and noble mind, 
corrected and controlled by " the meekness and gentleness 
of Christ," imprisonment was his desire, and the distinction 
which he is supposed to have derived from it, his motive ! 
Before criticism so flippant and callous, no character, however 
sacred and revered, could stand. It might be applied with 
equal success to the persecutions of the apostles, and the first 
Christians themselves; to the confessors, in the reign of 
Mary; and to the whole " noble army of martyrs." 

The real danger to which these excellent men were exposed 
is, however, concealed by Dr. Southey. Whitefield's fears, 
or rather hopes, of persecution, he says, "were suited to the 
days of Queen Mary, Bishop Gardiner, and Bishop Bonner.: 


they were ridiculous or disgusting in the time of George the 
Second, Archbishop Potter, and Bishop Gibson.''' This is 
said, because Mr. Whitefield thought that he might probably 
be called to " resist unto blood ;" and our author would have 
it supposed that all this was u safe boasting," in the reign 
of George the Second, and whilst the English Church had its 
Archbishop Potter, and its Bishop Gibson. But not even in 
the early part of the reign of George the Third-, and with 
other bishops in the Church as excellent as Potter and Gibson, 
was the anticipation groundless. The real danger was, in 
fact, so great from the brutality of the populace, the ignorance 
and supineness of the magistrates, and the mob-exciting activ- 
ity of the clergy, one of whom was usually the instigator of 
every tumult, that every man who went forth on the errand 
of mercy in that day took his life in his hand, and needed the 
spirit of a martyr, though he was not in danger of suffering a 
martyr's death, by regular civil or ecclesiastical process. Dr. 
Southey has himself in part furnished the confutation of his 
own suggestion, that little danger was to be apprehended, by 
the brief statements he has given of the hair-breadth escapes 
of the Wesleys, and of the sufferings of John Nelson. But 
a volume might be filled with accounts of outrages committed 
from that day to our own, in different places, (for they now 
occasionally occur in obscure and unenlightened parts of the 
country,) upon the persons of Methodist preachers, for the 
sole fault of visiting, neglected places, and preaching the gos- 
pel of salvation to those who, if Christianity be true, are in a 
state of spiritual darkness and danger. To be pelted with 
stones, dragged through ponds, beaten with bludgeons, rolled 
in mud, and to suffer other modes of ill-treatment, was the 
anticipation of all the first preachers, when they entered upon 
their work ; and this was also the lot of many of their hearers. 
Some lives were lost, and many shortened : the most ■singular 
escapes are on record ; and if the tragedy was not deeper, that 
was owing, at length, to the explicit declarations of George 
the Third on the subject of toleration, and the upright con- 
duct of the judges in their circuits, and in the higher courts, 
when an appeal was made to the laws in some of the most 
atrocious cases. Assuredly the country magistrates in gen- 
eral, and the clergy, were entitled to little share of the praise. 
Much of this is acknowledged by Dr. Southey; but he 


attempts to throw a part of the blame upon the Wesleys 
themselves. " Their doctrines of perfection and assurance" 
were, he thinks, among the causes of their persecution ; and 
" their zeal was not tempered with discretion." With discre- 
tion, in his view of it, their zeal was not tempered. Such dis- 
cretion would neither have put them in the way of persecu- 
tion, nor brought it upon them : it would have disturbed no 
sinner, and saved no soul. But they were not indiscreet in 
seeking danger, and provoking language never escaped lips in 
which the law of meekness always triumphed. And as for 
doctrines, the mobs and their exciters were then just as dis- 
criminating as mobs have ever been from the beginning of the 
world. They were usually stirred up by the clergy, and 
other persons of influence in the neighborhood, who were 
almost as ignorant as the ruffians they employed to assault the 
preachers and their peaceable congregations. The descrip- 
tion of the mob at Ephesus, in the Acts of the Apostles, 
suited them as well as if they had been the original, and not 
the copy: "Some cried one thing, and some another; for 
the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not 
wherefore they were come together." They generally, how- 
ever, agreed to pull down the preacher, and to abuse both 
him and his hearers, men, women, and even children; and 
that because "they troubled them about religion." 

That immediate resort to God in prayer, which was prac- 
ticed, in cases of "peril and danger," by these persecuted 
ministers ; and their ascription of deliverances to the Divine 
interposition, as in the instances above given, have also been 
subjects of either grave rebuke, or semi-infidel ridicule. It is 
not necessary to contend that every particular instance which, 
in the Journals of the Wesleys, is referred to an immediate 
answer to prayer, was so in reality ; because a few cases may 
reasonably appear doubtful. These, however, only prove that 
they cultivated the habit of regarding God in all things, and 
of gratefully acknowledging his hand'in all the events of life; 
and if there was at any time any over-application of these 
excellent views and feelings, yet, in minds so sober as to make 
the word of God, diligently studied, their only guide in all 
matters of practice, no injurious result could follow. But we 
must reject the Bible altogether, if we shut out a particular 
providence ; and we reduce prayer to a real absurdity, unless 


we allow that its very ground and reason is special interposi- 
tion. Why, for instance, should a Collect teach us to pray 
that " this day we may fall into no sin, neither run into any 
kiud of danger," if we do not thereby place ourselves under 
a special protection of God, and "if our interests must neces- 
sarily be dragged after the wheel of some general system of 
government ? Divine interposition is indeed ordinarily invisi- 
ble, and can be known only from general results : it impresses 
no mark of interruption or of quickened activity upon the 
general courses of things with which we may be surrounded : 
it works often unconsciously through our own faculties, and 
through the wills and purposes of others, as unconscious of it 
as we ourselves -, yet even in this case, where the indevout 
see man only, the better-instructed acknowledge God, who 
" worketh all in all." But to say that the hand of God is 
never specially marked in its operations ; that his servants, 
who are raised up by him for important services, shall never 
receive proofs of his particular care ; that an entire trust in 
him, in the most critical circumstances, shall have no visible 
honor put upon it; that when we are "in all things" com- 
manded to make our requests known unto God, the prayers 
which, in obedience to that command, we offer to him in the 
time of trouble shall never have a special answer — is to main- 
tain notions wholly subversive of piety, and which cannot be 
held without rejecting, or reducing to unmeaningness, many 
of the most explicit and important declarations of Holy Scrip- 
ture. These were not the views entertained by the Wesleys; 
and in their higher belief they coincided with good men in 
all ages. They felt that they were about their Master's busi- 
ness ; and they trusted in their Master's care, so long as it 
might be for his glory that they should be permitted to live. 
Nor for that were they anxious ; desiring only, that whilst 
they lived, they should " live unto the Lord," and that when 
they died, "they should die to him;" and that so "Christ 
might be magnified in their body, whether by life or by 

The labors of Mr. John Wesley, during the same period 
of two years, may be abridged from his Journal. In the first 
month of the year 1745, we find him at London, and at 
Bristol and its neighborhood. In February, he made a jour- 
ney, in the stormy and wintry weather of that season, to New- 


castle, preaching at various intermediate places. The follow- 
ing extract shows the cheerful and buoyant spirit with which 
he encountered these difficulties : — 

" Many a rough journey have I had before ; but one like 
this I never had, between wind, and hail, and rain, and ice, 
and snow, and driving sleet, and piercing cold. But it is 
past. Those days will return no more, and are therefore as 
though they had never been. 

' Pain, disappointment, sickness, strife, 
Whate'er molests or troubles life ; 
However grievous in its stay, 
It shakes the tenement of clay, 
When past, as nothing we esteem ; 
And pain, like pleasure, is a dream.' "* 

As a specimen of that cool and self-possessed manner which 
gave him so great a power over rude minds, we may take the 
following anecdote. A man at Newcastle had signalized him- 
self by personal insults offered to him in the streets; and, 
upon inquiry, he found him an old offender in persecuting the 
members of the society, by abusing and throwing stones at 
them. Upon this, he sent him the. following note : — 

" Robert Young : 

" I expect to see you, between this and Friday, and to 
hear from you that you are sensible of your fault. Otherwise, 
in pity to your soul, I shall be obliged to inform the magis- 
trates of your assaulting me yesterday in the street. 

" I am your real friend, 
"John Wesley." 

" Within two or three hours Robert Young- came, and 
promised quite a different behavior. So did this gentle re- 
proof, if not save a soul from death, yet prevent a multitude 
of sins."f 

Whilst at Newcastle, he drew up the following case : — 

"Newcastle-upon-Tyne, March 11, 1745-6. 
" I HAVE been drawing up this morning a short state of 

* Journal. -J- Ibid. 


the case between the clergy and us : I leave you to make any 
Such use of it as you believe will be to the glory of God. 

" J. About seven years since, we began preaching inward, 
present salvation, as attainable by faith alone. 

" 2. For preaching this doctrine, we were forbidden to 
preach in the churches. 

" 3. We then preached in private houses, as occasion 
offered ; and, when the houses .could not contain the people, 
in the open air. 

"4. For this, many of the clergy preached or printed 
against us, as both heretics and schismatics. 

" 5. Persons who were convinced of sin begged us to ad- 
vise them more particularly how to flee from the wrath to 
come. We replied, if they would all come at one time, (for 
they were numerous,) we would endeavor it. 

" 6. For this we were represented, both from' the pulpit 
and the press, (we have heard it with our ears, and seen it 
with our eyes,) as introducing Popery, raising sedition, prac- 
ticing both against Church and State; and all manner of evil 
was publicly said, both of us, and those who were accustomed 
to meet with us. 

"7 Finding some truth herein, viz., that some of those 
who so met together walked disorderly, we immediately desired 
them not to come to us any more. 

" 8. And the more steady were desired to overlook the rest, 
that we might know if they walked according to the gospel. 

"9. But now several of the bishops began to speak against 
us, either in conversation or in public. 

"■ 10. On this encouragement, several of the clergy stirred 
up the people to treat us as outlaws or mad dogs. 

"11. The people did so, both in Staffordshire, Cornwall, 
and many other places. 

" 12. And they do so still, wherever they are not restrained 
by their fear of the secular magistrate. 

" Thus the case stands at present. Now, what can we do, 
or what can you our brethren do, toward healing this breach ? 
which is highly desirable; that we may withstand, with joint 
force, the still-increasing flood of Popery, deism, and immo- 

" Desire of us any thing we can do with a safe conscience, 
and we will do it immediately. Will you meet us here? 


Will you do what we desire of you, so far as you can with a 
safe conscience ? 

" Let us come to particulars. Do you desire us, 1. To 
preach another, or to desist from preaching this, doctrine? 

" We think you do not desire it, as knowing we cannot do 
this with a safe conscience. 

"Do you desire us, 2. To desist from preaching in private 
houses, or in the open air ? 

"As things are now circumstanced, this would be the same 
as desiring us not to preach at all. 

"Do you desire us, 3. To desist from advising those who 
now meet together for that purpose ? or, in other words, to 
dissolve our societies ? 

" We cannot do this with a safe conscience; for we appre- 
hend many souls would be lost thereby, and that God would 
require their blood at our hands. 

" Do you desire us, 4. To advise them only one by one ? 

"This is impossible, because of their- number. 

" Do you desire us, 5. To suffer those who walk disorderly 
still to mix with the rest ? 

" Neither can we do this with a safe conscience ; because 
/evil communications corrupt good manners/ 

" Do you desire us, 6. To discharge those leaders of bands 
or classes (as we term them) who overlook the rest? 

" This is, in effect, to suffer the disorderly walkers still to 
mix with the rest; which we dare not do. 

" Do you desire us, lastly, to behave with reverence toward 
those who are overseers of the Church of God ; and with ten- 
derness both to the character and persons of our brethren, 
the inferior clergy ? 

" By the grace of God, we can and will do this. Yea, our 
conscience beareth us witness that we have already labored so 
to do; and that at all times, and in all places. 

"If you ask what we desire of you to do, we answer, 
1. We do not desire any of you to let us preach in your 
churches, either if you believe us to preach false doctrine, or 
if you have, upon any other ground, the least scruple concern- 
ing it. But we desire that any who believes us to preach true 
doctrine, and has no scruple at all in this matter, may not be 
either publicly or privately discouraged from invitino- us to 
preach in his church. 


" 2. We do not desire that any one who thinks that we are 
heretics or schismatics, and that it is his duty to preach or 
print against us as such, should refrain therefrom, so long as 
he thinks it his duty; although in this case the breach can 
never be healed. 

'' But we desire that none will pass such a sentence, until 
he has calmly considered both sides of the question ; that he 
would not condemn us unheard, but first read what we have 
written, and pray earnestly that God may direct him in the 
right way. 

" 3. We do not desire any favor, if either Popery, sedition, 
or immorality be proved against us. 

" But we desire you will not credit, without proof, any of 
those senseless tales that pass current with the vulgar; that, 
if you do not credit them yourselves, you will not relate them 
to others ; (which we have known done ;) yea, that you will 
confute them, so far as ye have opportunity, and discounte- 
nance those who still retail them abroad. 

" 4. We do not desire any preferment, favor, or recom- 
mendation from those that are in authority, either in Church 
or state. But we desire, 

" 1. That if any thing, material be laid to our charge, we 
may be permitted to answer for ourselves. 2. That you 
would hinder your dependents from stirring up the rabble 
against us, who are certainly not the proper judges of these 
matters. And, 3. That you would effectually suppress, and 
thoroughly discountenance, all riots and popular insurrections, 
which evidently strike at the foundation of all government, 
whether of Church or state. 

" Now, these things you certainly can do, and that with a 
safe conscience : Therefore, until these things are done, the 
continuance of the breach is chargeable on you, and you 
only.-* * y ' 

It is evident from this paper that Mr. Wesley's difficulties, 
arising from his having raised up a distinct people within the 
national Church, pressed upon him. He desired union and 
cooperation with the clergy ; but his hope was disappointed ; 
and perhaps it was much more than he could reasonably in- 
dulge. It shows, however, his own sincerity, and that he was 

* Works, vol. ii., pp. 272-275. 


not only led into Ifis course of irregularity, but impelled for- 
ward in it, by circumstances which his zeal and piety had 
created, and which all his prejudices in favor of the Church 
could not control. 

After spending some time in Newcastle and the neighbor- 
ing places, he visited Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, Lancashire, 
and Cheshire. On his return southward, he called at Wednes- 
bury, long the scene of riot, and preached in peace. At 
Birmingham he had to abide the pelting of stones and dirt ; 
and, on his return to London, he found some of the society 
inclined to Quakerism; but by reading "Barclay's Apology'' 
over with them, and commenting upon it, their scruples were 
removed. Antinomianism, both of mystic and Calvinistic 
origin, also gave him trouble; but his testimony against it 
was unsparing. To erroneous opinions, when innocent, no 
man was more tender; but when they infected the conduct, 
they met from bim the sternest resistance. " I would wish 
all to observe, that the points in question between us and 
either the German or English Antinomians are not- points 
of opinion, but of practice. We break with no man for his 
opinion. We think and let think."* 

In the summer he proceeded to Cornwall, where Br. Bor- 
lase, the historian of that county, in the plenitude of his 
magisterial authority, still carried on a systematic persecution 
against the Methodists. He had made out an order for Mr. 
Maxfield, who had been preaching in various places, to be 
sent on board a man-of-war ; but the Captain would not take 
him. A pious and peaceable miner, with a wife and seven 
children, was also apprehended under the Doctor's warrant, 
because he had said " that he knew his sins forgiven •" and 
this zealous anti-heretic finally made out a warrant against 
Mr. Wesley himself, but could find no one to execute it. 
From Cornwall, where his ministry had been attended with 
great effect, Mr. Wesley proceeded to Wales, and thence to 

Count Zinzendorf, about this time, directed the publication 
of an advertisement, declaring that he and his people had no 
connection with John and Charles Wesley; and concluded 
with a prophecy that they would " soon run their heads against 

* Journal. 


a wall." On this Mr. Wesley contents himself with coolly 
remarking, " We will not, if we can help it." 

He now proceeded northward ; and at Northampton called 
on Dr. Doddridge, from whom he had previously received 
several letters, breathing the most catholic spirit. At Leeds, 
the mob pelted him and the congregation with dirt and stones ) 
and the nest evening, being " in higher excitement, they were 
ready," says he, " to knock out our brains for joy that the 
Duke of Tuscany was Emperor." On his arrival at New- 
castle, the town was in the utmost consternation, news having 
arrived that the Pretender had entered Edinburgh. By the 
most earnest preaching, he endeavored to turn this season of 
alarm to the spiritual profit of the people ; and the large con- 
gregations whom he addressed in the streets heard with 
solemn attention. He then visited Epworth, but speedily 
returned to Newcastle ; judging, probably, that the place of 
anxiety and danger was his post of dut}?. Here he made an 
offer to the General, through one of the aldermen, to preach 
to the troops encamped near the town, whose dissolute lan- 
guage and manners greatly affected him ; but he seems to 
have received no favorable answer; so, after preaching a few 
times near the camp, he returned southwards, endeavoring, at 
Leeds, Birmingham, and other places, to turn the public agi- 
tation, arising from the apprehension of civil war, to the best 
account, by enforcing " repentance towards God, and faith in 
our Lord Jesus Christ." 

Mr. Wesley had occasionally employed himself in writing 
and getting printed small religious tracts, many thousands of 
which were distributed. This was revived with vigor on his 
return to-London this year; and he thus, by his example, was 
probably the first to apply, on any large scale, this important 
means of usefulness to the reformation of the people. In the 
form of those excellent institutions called "Tract Societies," 
the same plan has now long been carried on systematica 11)', to 
the great spiritual advantage of many thousands. At this 
period he observes, adverting to the numerous small tracts he 
had written and distributed, " It pleased God hereby to pro- 
voke others to jealousy; insomuch that the Lord Mayor had 
ordered a large quantity of papers, dissuading from cursing 
and swearing, to be printed, and distributed to the train-bands. 
And this day, an < Earnest Exhortation to Serious Iiepent- 


ance' was given at every church-door in or near London, to 
every person who came out; and one left at the house of every 
householder who was absent from church. I doubt not but 
God gave a blessing therewith."* 

In the early-part of 1746, we find the following entry in 
Mr. Wesley's Journal : — "I set out for Bristol. On the road 
I read over Lord King's account of the Primitive Church. 
In spite of the vehement prejudice of my education, I was 
ready to believe that this was a fair and impartial draught. 
But, if so, it would follow that bishops and presbyters are 
(essentially) of one order ; and that originally every Christian 
congregation was a Church independent on all others." 

The truth is, that Lord King came in only to confirm him 
in views which he had for some time begun to entertain ; and 
they were such as show that, though he was a Church-of- 
Enaland man as to affection, which was strong and sincere as 
far as its doctrines and its Liturgy were concerned, and though 
he regarded it with great deference as a legal institution, yet, 
in respect to its ecclesiastical polity, he was even then very 
free in his opinions. At the second Conference, in 1745, it 
was asked, " Is Episcopal, Presbyterian, or Independent 
Church-government most agreeable to reason V The answer 
is as follows : 

u The plain origin of Church-government seems to be this ; 
Christ sends forth a person to preach the gospel ; some of 

* Journal. Previous to this, .we find him a tract writer and dis- 
tributor ; for he observes, in the year 1742, "I set out for Brentford 
with Robert Swindels. The next day we reached Marlborough. When 
one in the room beneath us was swearing desperately, Mr. Swindels 
stepped down, and put into his hand the paper entitled, ' Swear not 
at all.' He thanked him, and promised to swear no more. And he 
did not while he was in the house." Mr. Wesley had already written 
tracts entitled "A Word to a Smuggler," "A Word to a Sabbath- 
breaker," "A Word to a Swearer," "A Word to a Drunkard," "A 
Word to a Street-walker," "A Word to a Malefactor," and several oth- 
ers. He published these, that his preachers and people might have 
them to give away to those who were guilty of these crimes, or in 
danger of falling into them. He considered this as one great means 
of spreading the knowledge of God. He also early gave his influence 
to the Sunday-school system. Mr. Raikes began his Sunday-school 
in Gloucester in 1784; and in January, 1785, Mr. Wesley published 
an account of it in his Magazine, and exhorted his societies to imitate 
that laudable example. 


those who hear him repent, and believe in Christ; they then 
desire him to watch over them, to build them up in faith, and 
to guide their souls into paths of righteousness. Here, then, 
is au independent congregation, subject to no pastor but their 
own; neither liable to be controlled, in things spiritual, by 
any other man, or body of men, whatsoever.- But soon after, 
some from other parts, who were occasionally present whilst 
he was speaking in the name of the Lord, beseech him to 
come over and help them also. He complies; yet not till he 
confers with the wisest and holiest of his congregation ; and 
with their consent appoints one who has gifts and grace to 
watch over his flock in his absence. If it please God to 
raise another flock, in the new place, before he leaves them, 
he does the same thing, appointing one whom God hath fitted 
for the work to watch over these souls also. In like manner, 
in every place where it pleases God to gather a little flock by 
his word, he appoints one in his absence to take the oversight 
of the rest, to assist them as of the ability which God giveth. 

4 ' These are deacons, or servants of the Church ; and they 
look upon their first pastor as the common father of all these 
congregations, and regard him in the same light, and esteem 
him still as the shepherd of their souls. These congregations 
are not strictly independent, as they depend upon one pastor, 
though not upon each other. 

"As these congregations increase, and the deacons grow in 
years and grace, they need other subordinate deacons, or 
helpers; in respect of whom they may be called presbyters or 
elders, as their father in the Lord may be called the bishop 
or overseer of them all." 

This passage is important, as it shows that from the first he 
regarded his preachers, when called out and devoted to the 
work, as, in respect of primitive antiquity and the universal 
Church, parallel to deacons and presbyters. He also then 
thought himself a scriptural bishop. Lord King's researches 
into antiquity served to confirm these sentiments, and cor- 
rected his former notion as to a distinction of orders. 

It should here be stated, that at these early Conferences one 
sitting appears to have been devoted to conversation on mat- 
ters of discipline, in which the propriety of Mr. Wesley's 
proceedings in forming societies, calling out preachers, and 
originating a distinct religious community, governed by its 


own laws, were considered; and this necessarily led to the 
examination of general questions of Church-government and 
order. This will explain the reason why in the Conferences 
which Mr, Wesley, his brother, two or three clergymen, and 
a few preachers held in the years 174-1, 1745, 1746, and 
1747, such subjects were discussed as are contained in the 
above extract, and in those which follow. On these, as on all 
others, they set out with the principle of examining every 
thine' u to the foundation." 

"Q. Can he be a spiritual governor of the Church who is 
not a believer, not a member of it ? 

"A. It seems not ; though he may be a governor in out- 
ward things, by a power derived from the King. 

"Q. What are properly the laws of the Church of Eng- 

"A. The Rubrics ; and to these we submit, as the ordinance 
of men, for the Lord's sake. 

"Q. But is not the will of our governors a law ? 

"A. No; not of any governor, temporal or spiritual. 
Therefore, if any bishop wills that I should not preach the 
gospel, his will is no law to me. 

"Q. But if he produce a law against your preaching? 

"A. I am to obey Grod rather than man." 

"Q. Is mutual consent absolutely necessary between the 
pastor and his flock ? 

"A. No question : I cannot guide any soul, unless he con- 
sent to be guided. by me; neither can any soul force me to 
guide him, if I consent not. 

" Q. Does the ceasing of this consent on either side dissolve 
this relation ? 

"A. It must, in the very nature of things. If a man no 
longer consent to be guided by me, I am no longer his guide ; 
I am free. If one will not guide me any longer, I am free to 
seek one who will." 

" Q. Does a Church in the New Testament always mean a 
single congregation ? 


"A. We believe it does; we do not recollect any instance 
to the contrary. 

" Q. What instance or ground is there then in the New- 
Testament for a National Church ? 

, "A. We know none at all; we apprehend it to be a merely 
political institution. 

"Q. Are the three orders of bishops, priests, and deacons 
plainly described in the New Testament ? 

"A. We think they are, and believe they generally obtained 
in the Church of the apostolic age. 

" Q. But are you assured that God designed the same plan 
should obtain in all Churches throughout all ages ? 

"A. We are not assured of it, because we -do not know it 
is asserted in holy writ. 

"Q. If the plan were essential to a Christian Church, what 
must become of all foreign Reformed Churches ? 

"A. It would, follow, they are no part of the Church of 
Christ ; a consequence full of shocking absurdity. 

"Q. In what age was the Divine right of Episcopacy first 
asserted in England? 

"A. About the middle of Queen Elizabeth's reign : Till 
then all the bishops and clergy in England continually allowed 
and joined in the ministrations of those who were not episco- 
pally ordained. 

" Q. Must there not be numberless accidental variations in 
the government of various Churches ? 

"A. There must, in the nature of things. As God vari- 
ously dispenses his gifts of nature, providence, and grace, 
both the offices themselves, and the officers in each, ought to 
be varied from time to time. 

" Q. Why is it that there is no determinate plan of Church- 
government appointed in Scripture? 

"A. Without doubt because the wisdom of God had a re- 
gard to that necessary variety, 

" Q. Was there any thought of uniformity in the govern- 
ment of all Churches, until the time of Constantine ? 

"A. It is certain there was not; nor would there have been 
then, had men consulted the word of God only/' 

Nothing, therefore, can be more clear, than that Mr. 
Wesley laid the groundwork of his future proceedings, after 
much deliberation, at this early stage of his progress. He 


felt that a case of necessity had arisen, calling upon him to 
provide a ministry and a government for the people who had 
been raised up; a necessity which rested upon the obvious 
alternative, that they must either be furnished with pastors 
of their own, or be left without sufficient aid in the affairs 
of their souls. This led him closely to examine the whole 
matter; and he saw that when the authority of Scripture 
alone was referred to in matters of Church arrangement and 
regulation, it enjoined no particular form of administration as 
binding, but left the application of certain great and inviola- 
ble principles to the piety and prudence of those whom God 
might honor as the instruments of usefulness to the souls 
of men. Here he took his stand ; and he proceeded to call 
forth preachers, and set them apart or ordain them* to the 

* The act of setting apart ministers by Mr. Wesley, but without 
imposition of hands, is here called their ordination, although that 
term has not been generally in use among us ; and may be objected 
to by those who do not consider that imposition of hands, however 
impressive as a form, and in most Churches the uniform practice, 
is still but a circumstance, and cannot enter into the essence of ordina- 
tion. That every religious society has the power to determine the 
mgde in which " the separation" of its ministers "to the gospel of 
God" shall be visibly notified and expressed, will only be ques- 
tioned by those whom prejudice and a wretched bigotry have brought 
under their influence. What the body of Methodists now practice, 
in this respect, will, however, be allowed to stand on clearer ground 
than the proceedings of Mr. Wesley, who still continued in com- 
munion with the Church. It has, therefore, been generally supposed 
that Mr. Wesley did not consider his appointment of preachers with- 
out imposition of hands as an ordination to the ministry ; but only 
as an irregular employment of laymen in the spiritual office of 
merely expounding the Scriptures in a case of moral necessity. This, 
however, is not correct. They were not appointed to expound or 
preach merely, but were solemnly set apart to the pastoral office, as 
the Minutes of the Conferences show ; nor were they regarded by him 
as laymen, except when in common parlance they were distinguished 
from the clergy of the Church ; in which case he would have called 
any Dissenting minister a layman. The first extract from the 
Minutes of the Conferences above given, sufficiently shows that as to 
the Church of Christ at large, and as to his own societies, he re- 
garded the preachers, when fully devoted to the work, not as laymen, 
but as spiritual men, and ministers ; men, as he says, "moved by the 
Holy Ghost" to preach the gospel, and who after trialwere ordained 
to that and other branches of the pastoral office. In his sketch of 
the origin of Church government in that extract, he clearly had in 


sacred office, and to enlarge the work by their means, under 
the full conviction of his acting under as clear a scriptural 
authority as could be pleaded by Churchmen for Episcopacy, 
by the Presbyterians for Presbytery, or by the Congregation- 
alists for Independency. Still he did not go beyond the 
necessity. He could make this scriptural appointment of 
ministers and Ordinances without renouncing; communion 
with the national Church, and therefore he did not renounce 
it. In these views Charles Wesley too, who was at every one 
of the early Conferences, concurred with him ; and if he 
thought somewhat differently on these points afterwards, it 
was Charles who departed from first principles, not John. So 
much for the accuracy of Dr. Whitehead, who constructed his 
Life of the- two brothers upon just the opposite opinion ! 

The discipline which Mr. Wesley maintained in the 
societies was lenient and long-suffering ; but where there was 
an evil at the root, he had an unsparing hand. In March, 
1746, he came to Nottingham, and observes : " I had long- 
view the conformity between what had taken place in his own case, 
and that which must, in a great number of instances, have occurred 
in the earliest periods of Christianity ; and whilst he evidently refers 
to himself, as the father and bishop of the whole of the societies, he 
tacitly compares his -"Assistants" to the ancient " Presbyters," and 
his "Helpers" to the ancient "Deacons." In point of fact, so fully 
did he consider himself, even in 1747, (whether consistently or not 
as a Churchman, let others determine, I speak only to the fact,) as 
setting apart or ordaining to the ministry, that he appears to have had 
thoughts of adding imposition of hands to his usual mode of ordina- 
tion, which was preceded by fasting and private prayer, and con- 
sisted of public examination, prayer, and appointment; and he 
only declines this for prudential reasons. "Why," says he, "do 
we not use more form in receiving a new laborer? 1. Because 
there is something of stateliness in it, and we would be little and in- 
considerable. 2. Because we would not make haste ; we desire barely 
to follow Providence as it gradually opens." (Minutes of 1747.) 
Even this form, therefore, was regarded as what might, in other cir- 
cumstances, be required. The bearing of these remarks upon some 
future ordinations of Mr. Wesley, by imposition of hands, will be 
pointed out in its proper place. [In the Ordinal prepared by Mr. 
Wesley from that of the Church of England for the Methodist Epis- 
copal Church in the United States, in 1784, the laying on of hands 
is prescribed in the ordination of superintendents, or bishops, elders, 
and deacons, and has always been practiced by the Methodist Episco- 
pal Church.— T. 0. S.] 


doubted what it was which hindered the work of God here. 
But upon inquiry the case was plain. So many of the society 
were either triflers, or disorderly walkers, that the blessing of 
God could not rest upon them. So I made short work by 
cutting off all such at a stroke, and leaving only that little 
handful, who, as far as could be judged, were really in earnest 
to save their souls/' 

At Wednesbury and Birmingham he found that some 
Antinomian teachers, the offspring of that seed which, be- 
fore the recent revival of religion, had been sown in various 
parts of the country, and who, in that concern about spiritual 
things which now prevailed, began more zealously to bestir 
themselves to mislead and destroy the souls of men, under 
pretence of preaching a purer gospel, had troubled the socie- 
ties. By personal conversation with some of these teachers, 
in the presence of the people, he drew out the odious ex- 
tent to which they carried their notions of " Christian liberty;" 
and thus took an effectual method of exposing and confuting 
the deadly error. 

Upon his return to London, it appeared that certain pre- 
tended prophets had appeared in the metropolis, and had 
excited the attention of many. He gratified his curiosity by 
going to visit one of them; and with good-humored sar- 
casm observes, that as " he aimed at talking Latin and could 
not, he plainly showed that he did not understand his own 
calling." Sober Scotland has in our own day exhibited a 
similar fanaticism; and the gift of tongues, pretended by 
some persons there, appears to have proved quite as unsatis- 
factory an evidence of a Divine commission, as in this case. 
In visiting Newgate he found a penitent and hopeful male- 
factor; and his journal affords a specimen of that originality 
of remark which peculiar cases, often perplexing to others, 
called forth from him. "A real, deep work of God seemed 
to be already begun in his soul. Perhaps by driving him too 
fast, Satan has driven him to God; to that repentance which 
shall never be repented of." When he subsequently visited 
Dr. Dodd under condemnation, he is reported to have replied 
to his apologies for receiving him in the condemned cell, 
" Courage, brother; perhaps God saw that nothing else would 

Bristol, Wales, Devonshire, and Cornwall occupied Mr. 


Wesley's attention during the summer of 1746 ; and London, 
Bristol, and the places adjacent, for the remainder of the 
year. About this time also he received various letters from 
the army abroad, giving an account of the progress of religion 
among the soldiers, and of the brave demeanor in battle 
of many of their Methodist comrades. These accounts 
appear to have given him great satisfaction • as showing the 
power of religion in new circumstances, and as affording 
him an answer to his enemies, who asserted that his doctrines 
had the effect of making men dastardly, negligent of duty, 
and disloyal. In the early part of the year 17-A7, we find 
him braving the snows of February in Lincolnshire ; and in 
March he reached Newcastle, to supply the absence of his 
brother from that important station. 

Among other excellences possessed by this great man, 
he was fond of smoothing the path of knowledge, to the 
diffusion of which he devoted much attention, and for which 
end he published several compendiums and brief treatises 
on its most important branches. In this respect also he was 
foremost to tread in a path which has been of late years 
vigorously pursued ; and he must be reckoned as one of the 
leaders of that class of wise and benevolent men, who have 
exerted themselves to extend the benefits of useful informa- 
tion from the privileged orders of society, into the middle 
and lower classes. u This week," says he, " I read over with 
some young men a Compendium of Rhetoric, and a system 
of Ethics. I see not why a man of tolerable understanding 
may not, in six months' time, learn more of solid philosophy 
than is commonly learned at Oxford in four (perhaps seven) 

On his return from his labors in the north of England, ho 
called at Manchester, which he had formerly several times 
visited in order to take counsel witli his college friend, Clay- 
ton, and Dr. Byrom, and had preached in the churches, lie 
was now seen there in a new character. The small house 
which was occupied by the society could not contain a tenth 
part of the people, and he therefore walked to Salford-Cross. 
"A numberless crowd of people partly ran before, partly 
followed after me. I thought it best not to sing; but, look- 
ing round, asked abruptly, 'Why do you look as if you had 
never seen me before ? Many of you have seen me in the 


neighboring church* both preaching and administering the 
sacrament." I then gave out the text, ' Seek ye the Lord 
while he maybe found; call upon him while he is near.' 
None interrupted at all, or made any disturbance, till, as I 
was drawing to a conclusion, a big man thrust in, with three 
or four more, and bade them 'bring out the engine.' Our 
friends desired me to remove into a yard just by, which I did, 
and concluded in peace." 

From the north he proceeded through Nottingham and 
Staffordshire to London, and from thence to the west of Eng- 
land. The influence which his calm courage often gave him 
over mobs was remarkably shown on this journey: "Within 
two miles of Plymouth, one overtook and informed us, that 
the night before all the dock was in an uproar; and that a 
constable, endeavoring to keep the peace, was beaten and 
much hurt. As we were entering the dock, one met us, and 
desired we would go the back way. ' For,' said he, ' there are 
thousands of people waiting about Mr. Hyde's door.' We 
rode up straight into the midst of them. They saluted us 
with three huzzas; after which I alighted, took several of 
them by the hand, and began to talk with them. I would 
gladly have passed an hour among them, and believe if I had 
there had been an. end of the riot; but the day being far 
spent, (for it was past nine o'clock,) I was persuaded to go in. 
The mob then recovered their spirits, and fought valiantly 
with the doors and windows. But about ten they were weary, 
and went every man to his own home. The next day I 
preached at four, and then spoke severally to a part of the 
society. About six in the evening I went to the place where 
I preached the last year. A little before we had ended the 
hymn, came a. lieutenant, a famous man, with his retinue of 
soldiers, drummers, and mob. When the -drums ceased, a 
gentleman-barber began to speak ; but his voice was quickly 
drowned in the shouts of the multitude, who grew fiercer 
and fiercer as their numbers increased. After waiting about 
a quarter of an hour, perceiving the violence of the rabble 
still increasing, I walked down into the thickest of them, and 
took the captain of the mob by the hand. He immediately 
said, ' Sir, I will see you safe home. Sir, no man shall touch 
you. Gentlemen, stand off. Give back. I will knock the 
first man down that touches him.' We walked on in great 


peace, my conductor every now and then stretching out his 
neck, (he was a very tall man,) and looking round, to see if 
any behaved rudely, till we came to Mr. Hyde s door. We 
then parted in much love. I stayed in the street near 
half an hour after he was gone, talking with the people, who 
had now forgot their anger, and went away in high good- 

In Cornwall we have a specimen of his prompt and faithful 
habits of discipline : — 

" Wednesday, 8. I preached at St. Ives, then at Sithney. 
On Thursday the stewards of all the societies met. I now 
diligently inquired what exhorters there were in each society; 
whether they had gifts meet for the work ; whether their lives 
were eminently holy ; and whether there appeared any fruit 
of their labor/ I found, upon the whole, 1. That there were 
no fewer than eighteen exhorters in the county. 2. That 
three of these had no gifts at all for the work, neither natural 
nor supernatural. 3. That a fourth had neither gifts nor 
grace, but was a dull, empty, self-eonceited man. 4. That a 
fifth had considerable gifts, but had evidently made shipwreck 
of the grace of God. These, therefore, I determined imme- 
diately to set aside, and advise our societies not to hear them. 
5. That J. B., A. L., and J. W., had gifts and grace, and 
had been much blessed in the work. Lastly, that the rest 
might be helpful when there was no preacher in their own or 
the neighboring societies, provided they would take no step 
without the advice of those who had more experience than 

In August he visited Ireland, for the first time. Method- 
ism had been introduced into Dublin by Mr. Williams, one 
of the preachers, whose ministry had been attended with 
great success, so that a considerable society had been already 
formed. Mr. Wesley was allowed to preach once at St. Mary's, 
"to as gay and senseless a congregation," he observes, "as 
I ever saw." This was not, however, permitted a second 
time; and he occupied the spacious yard of £he meeting- 
house, both in the mornings and evenings, preaching to large 
congregations of both poor and rich. Among his hearers he 
had also the ministers of various denominations. The state 
of the Catholics excited his peculiar sympathy; and, as he 
could have little access to them by preaching, he published 


an address specially for their use. In his Journal he makes 
a remark on the religious neglect of this class of our fellow- 
subjects by Protestants, which contains a reproof, the force 
of which has, unhappily, extended to our own times : " Nor 
is it any wonder that those who are born Papists generally 
live and die such, when the Protestants can find no better 
ways to convert them than penal laws and Acts of Parliament/' 
The chief perplexities which Ireland has occasioned to the 
empire are to be traced to this neglect ; and the dangers 
which have often sprung up to the state from that quarter 
have been, and continue to be, its appropriate punishment. 
Mr. Wesley's visit at this time to Ireland was short; but he 
requested his brother to succeed him. Mr. Charles Wesley, 
therefore, accompanied by another preacher, Mr. Charles Per- 
ronet, one of the sons of the venerable Vicar of Shoreham, 
arrived there in September. A persecution had broken out 
against the infant society in Dublin; and "the first news," 
says Mr. Charles Wesley, " we heard was, that the little flock 
stood fast in the storm of persecution, which arose as soon as 
my brother, left them. The Popish mob broke open their 
room, and destroyed all before them. Some of them are sent 
tQ Newgate, others bailed. What will be the event we know 
not, till we see whether the grand jury will find the bill." 
He afterwards states that the grand jury threw out the bill, 
and thus gave up t^e Methodists to the fury of a licentious 
mob. " God has called me to. suffer affliction with his people. 
I began my ministry with ' Comfort ye, comfort ye my 
people,' etc. I met the society, and the Lord knit our hearts 
together in love stronger than death. We both wept and 
rejoiced for the consolation. G-od hath sent me, I trust, to 
confirm these souls, and to keep them together in the present 

Mr. Charles Wesley spent the winter in Dublin, being 
daily employed in preaching, and visiting the people. In 
February he made an excursion into the country, where a few 
preachers w.ere already laboring, and, in some places, with 
great success. Thus was the first active and systematic 
agency for the conversion of the neglected people of Ireland 
commenced by the Methodists; and, till of late years, it is 

* Whitehead's Life. 


greatly to be regretted that they were left to labor almost 
alone. From that time, however, not only was the spirit of 
religion revived in many Protestant parts of the country, and 
many Papists converted to the truth, but the itinerant plan, 
which was there adopted as in England, enabled the preachers 
to visit a great number of places where the Protestants were 
so few in numbers as not to be able to keep up regular wor- 
ship, or to make head, when left to themselves, against 
Popish influence. A barrier was thus erected against the 
further encroachments of Popery; and the light was kept 
burning in districts where it would otherwise have been en- 
tirely extinguished. The influence of the Methodist societies 
would, however, have been much more extensive, had not the 
large emigrations which have been almost constantly setting 
in from Ireland to America, borne away a greater number of 
their members, in proportion, than those of any other com- 
munity. Mr. Charles Wesley spent part of the year 1748 in 
Ireland, and preached in several of the chief towns, and espe- 
cially at Cork, with great unction and success. 



Labors of the preachers — Doctrinal conversations of the Conferences — 
Justification — Repentance — Faith — Assurance — Remarks — Fruits 
of justifying faith — Sanctification — Witness of the Spirit — Remarks 
— Spirit in which Mr. Wesley sought truth — Miscellaneous extracts 
from the Minutes of the early Conferences — Notices of the deaths 
of preachers — Remarks. 

The notices of the journeys and labors of these indefatiga- 
ble ministers of Christ, given in the preceding chapter, afford 
but a specimen of the manner in which the foundations of the 
Methodist Connection were carried out and firmly laid. Nor 
were the preachers under their direction, though laboring in 
more limited districts of country, scarcely less laboriously 
employed. At this period, one of them writes from Lanca- 
shire to Mr. Wesley : " Many doors are opened for preaching 
in these parts, but cannot be supplied for want of preachers. 
I think some one should be sent to assist me, otherwise we 
shall lose ground. My circuit requires me to travel one hun- 
dred and fifty miles in two weeks; during which time I preach 
publicly thirty-four times, besides meeting the societies, visit- 
ing the sick, and transacting other affairs. "* 

Of the preachers, some were engaged in business, and 
preached at their leisure in their own neighborhoods; but 
still, zealous for the salvation of men, they often took consi- 
derable journeys. Others gave themselves up, for a time, to 
more extended labors, and then settled ; but the third class, 
who had become the regular "Assistants'' and "Helpers" of 
Mr. Wesley, were devoted wholly to the work of the minis- 
try; and, after a period of probation, and a scrutiny into their 
character and talents at the annual Conferences, were admit- 

* Whitehead's Life. 


ted, by solemn prayer, into what was called "full connection," 
which, as we have stated, was their ordination. No provision 
was, however, made at this early period for their maintenance. 
They took neither "purse nor scrip;" they cast themselves 
upon the providence of Grod, and the hospitality and kindness 
of the societies, and were by them, like the primitive preach- 
ers, " helped forward after a godly sort,"* on their journeys, 
to open new places, and to instruct those for whose souls " no 
man cared." It might be as truly said of them as of the 
first propagators of Christianity, they had "no certain dwell- 
ing-place." Under the severity of labor, and the wretched 
accommodations to which they cheerfully submitted, many a 
fine constitution was broken, and premature death was often 

The annual Conferences have been mentioned ; and that a 
correct view may be taken of the doctrines which at those 
meetings it was agreed should be taught in the societies, it 
will be necessary to go back to their commencement. At first 
every doctrine was fully sifted in successive "Conversations," 
and the great principles of a godly discipline were drawn out 
into special regulations, as circumstances appeared to require. 
After the body had acquired greater maturity, these doctrinal 
discussions became less frequent; a standard and a test being 
ultimately established in a select number of Mr. Wesley's doc- 
trinal Sermons, and in his " Notes on the New Testament." 
The free and pious spirit in which these inquiries were entered 
into was strikingly marked at the first Conferences, in the 
commencing exhortation : " Let us all pray for a willingness 
to receive light, to know of every doctrine whether it be of 
God»" The widest principle of Christian liberty was also 
laid down, as suited to the infant state of a society which was 
but just beginning to take its ground, and to assume the 
appearance of order. 

" Q. 3. How far does each of us agree to submit to the 
judgment of the majority? 

"A. In speculative things, each can only submit so far as 
his judgment shall be convinced ; in every practical point, 

* The want of a provision for their wives and families, in the early 
periods of Methodism, caused the loss of many eminent preachers, 
who were obliged to settle in Independent congregations. 

160 THE LIFE Off 

each will submit so far as he can, without wounding his con- 

" Q. 4. Can a Christian submit any further than this to any 
man, or number of men, upon earth ? 

"A. It is plain he cannot : either td Bishop, Convocation, 
or General Council. And this is that grand principle of pri- 
vate judgment on which all the Reformers at home and abroad 
proceeded: 'Every man must judge for himself; because 
every man must give an account of himself to God.' "* 

Never, it may be affirmed, was the formation of any Chris- 
tian society marked by the recognition of principles more lib- 
eral, or more fully in the spirit of the New Testament. 

To some of the doctrinal conversations of the first Confer- 
ences it is necessary to refer, in order to mark those peculiari- 
ties of opinion which distinguished the Wesleyan Methodists. 
It is, however, proper to observe, that the clergymen and 
others who thus assembled, did not meet to draw up formal 
articles of faith. They admitted those of the Church of 
England; and their principal object was to ascertain how 
several of the doctrines, relative to experimental Christianity, 
which they found stated in substance in those Articles, and 
further illustrated in the Homilies, were to be understood and 
explained. This light they sought from mutual discussion, in 
which every thing was brought to the standard of the word 
of inspired truth. 

Their first subject was Justification, which they describe 
with great simplicity; not loading it with epithets, as in the 
systematic schools, nor perplexing it by verbal criticism. It 
is defined to be "pardon," or "reception into God's favor;" 
a view which is amply supported by several explicit passages 
of Scripture, in which the terms, "pardon," "forgiveness," 
and "remission of sins," are used convertibly with the term 
"justification." To be "received into God's favor," accord- 
ing to these Minutes, is necessarily connected with the act of 
forgiveness, and is the immediate and inseparable consequence 
of that gracious procedure. The same may- be said of adop- 
tion ; which, in some theological schemes, is made to flow 
from regeneration, while the latter is held to commence pre- 
viously to justification. In Mr. Wesley's views, adoption, as 

* Minutes. 


being a relative change, is supposed to be necessarily involved 
in justification, or the pardon of sin ; and regeneration to 
flow from both, as an inward moral change arising from the 
powerful and efficacious work of the Holy Spirit, who is in 
that moment given to believers.* To their definition. of justi- 
fication, the Minutes add, "It is such a state that, if we con- 
tinue therein, we shall be finally saved;" thus making final 
salvation conditional, and justification a state which may be 
forfeited. All wilful sin was held to imply a casting away of 
vital faith, and thereby to bring a man under wrath and con- 
demnation ; " nor is it possible for him to have justifying faith 
again without previously repenting." They also agree that 
faith is "the condition of justification;" adding as the proof, 
"for every one that believeth not is condemned, and every 
one who believes is justified." In Mr. Wesley's sermon on 
justification by faith, the office of faith in justifying is thus 
more largely set forth : 

" Surely the difficulty of assenting to the proposition, that 
faith is the only condition of justification, must arise from not 
understanding it. We mean thereby thus much, that it is 
the only thing without which no one is justified ; the only 
thing that is immediately, indispensably, absolutely requisite 
in order to pardon. As, on the one hand, though a man 
should have every thing else, without faith, yet he cannot be 
justified; so, on the other, though he be supposed to want 
every thing else, yet if he hath faith, he cannot but be justi- 
fied. For suppose a sinner of any kind or degree, in a full 
sense of his total ungodliness, or his utter inability to think, 
speak, or do good, and his absolute meetness for hell-fire : 
suppose, I say, this sinner, helpless and hopeless, casts him- 
self wholly on the mercy of God in Christ, (which indeed he 
cannot do but by the grace of God,) who can doubt but he is 
forgiven in that moment ? Who will affirm that any move is 
indispensably required, before that sinner can be justified? 

* The connection of favor and adoption with pardon arises from the 
very nature of that act. Pardon, or forgiveness, is release from the 
penalties and forfeitures incurred by transgression. Of those penal- 
ties, the hiss of God's favor and of filial relation to him was among 
the most weighty; pardon, therefore, in its nature, or at least in its 
natural consequences, implies a restoration to the blessings forfeited,- 
for else the penalty would, in part, remain in force. 



"And at what time soever a sinner thus believes, be it in 
his early childhood, in the strength of his years, or when he is 
old and'hoary-headed, God justifieth that ungodly one; God, 
for the sake of his Son, pardoneth and absolveth him, who 
had in him, till then, no good thing. Repentance, indeed, 
God had given him before; but that repentance was neither 
more nor less than a deep Sense of the want of all good, and 
the presence of all evil. And whatever good he hath or doeth 
from that hour, when he first believes in God through Christ, 
faith does not find, but bring. This is the fruit of faith. 
First, the tree is good, and then the fruit is good also." 

Mr. Wesley's views of repentance in this passage will also 
be noted. Here, as at the first Conference, he insists that 
repentance, which is conviction of sin, and works meet for 
repentance, go before justifying faith ; but he held, with the 
Church of England, that all works before justification had 
" the nature of sin ;" and that, as they had no root in the 
love of God, which can only arise from a persuasion of his 
being reconciled to us, they could not constitute a moral 
worthiness preparatory to pardon. That a true repentance 
springs from the grace of God, is certain ; but whatever fruits 
it may bring forth, it changes not man's relation to God. He 
is a sinner, and is justified as such ; " for it is not a saint but 
a sinner that is forgiven, and under the notion of a sinner." 
God justifieth the ungodly, not the godly.* Repentance, ac- 
cording to his statement, is necessary to true faith • but faith 
alone is the direct and immediate instrument of pardon. 

Those views of faith (of that faith by which a man, thus 
penitent, comes to God thi-ough Christ) which are expressed 
in the Minutes of this first Conference, deserve a more par- 
ticular consideration. Here, as in defining justification, the 
language of the schools, and of systematic, philosophizing 
divines, is laid aside, and a simple enunciation is made of the 
doctrine of the New Testament. " Faith in general is a 
divine, supernatural elenchos of things not seen ; that is, of 
past, future, or spiritual things. It is a spiritual sight of 
God and the things of God."-j- 

In this description, faith is distinguished from mere belief, 
or an intellectual conviction which the consideration of the 

* Sermons. -j- Minutes. 


evidences of the truth of Scripture may produce, and yet lead 
to no practical or saving consequence. And that there may 
be a sincere and undoubting belief of the truth, without pro- 
ducing any saving effect, is a point of which our very con- 
sciousness may sufficiently assure us; although, in order to 
support a particular theory on the subject of faith, this has 
sometimes been denied. Trust ft constantly implied in the 
scriptural account of acceptable and saving faith ; and this is 
the sense in which it was evidently taken in the above defini- 
tion ; for its production in the heart is referred to supernatu- 
ral agency, and it is made to result from, and to be essentially 
connected with, a demonstration of spiritual things — such a 
conviction, wrought by the teaching Spirit, as produces not 
merely a full persuasion, but a full reliance. Six years before 
this time, Mr. Wesley, in a sermon before the University of 
Oxford, had more at large expressed the same views as to 
justifying faith : — " Christian faith is not only an assent to 
the whole gospel of Christ, but also a full reliance on the 
blood of Christ ; a trust in the merits of his life, death, and 
resurrection; a recumbency upon him as our atonement and 
our life, as given for us, and living in us. It is a sure confi- 
dence which a man hath in God, that, through the merits of 
Christ his sins are forgiven, and he reconciled to the favor of 
God; and, in consequence hereof, a closing with him, and 
cleaving to him, as our l wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, 
and redemption,' or, in one word, our salvation."* 

It will, however, be remarked, that, in order to support his 
view of the nature of justifying faith by the authority of the 
Church of England, Mr. Wesley has quoted her words from 
the Homily on Salvation in the latter part of the above 
extract; and he thereby involved the subject in an obscurity 
which some time afterwards he detected and acknowledged. 
The incorrectness of the wording of the homily is indeed 
very apparent, although in substance it is sound and scrip- 
tural. When that homily defines justifying faith to be " a 
sure trust and confidence which a man hath in God that his 
sins are forgiven, and he reconciled to the favor of God," it 
is clear that, by the founders of the English Church, saving 
faith is regarded not as mere belief, but as an act of trust and 

* Sermons. 


confidence subsequent to the discovery made to a man of his 
sin and danger, and the fear and penitential sorrow which 
are thereby produced. The object of that faith they make to 
be God, assuredly referring to God in the exercise of his 
mercy through the atonement and intercession of Christ; and 
the trust and confidence of which the homily speaks must be 
therefore taken to imply a distinct recognition of the merits 
of Christ, and a full reliance upon them. So far all is scrip- 
turally correct, although not so fully expressed as could be 
desired. That from such a faith, exercised in these circum- 
stances, a " confidence," taking the word in the sense of per- 
suasion or assurance, that "a man's sins are forgiven, and he 
reconciled to the favor of God," certainly follows, is the doc- 
trine of Scripture ; and the authority of the homily may 
therefore also be quoted in favor of that view of assurance at 
which Churchmen have so often stumbled, and to which they 
have so often scornfully referred as the fanatical invention of 
modern sectaries. There is, however, an error in the homily, 
which lies not in its substance and general intent, but in this, 
that it applies the same terms, " trust and confidence," both 
to God's mercy in Christ, which is its proper object, and to 
u forgiveness of sins," which is the consequence of a sure 
trust and confidence in God as exercising mercy " through 
Christ," because it is that in order to which the trust and 
confidence is exercised. It follows, therefore, that either 
there is an error in the latter part of the statement itself; 
justifying faith not being a confidence that sin is forgiven, 
which is absurd, because it is' the condition previously re- 
quired in order to the forgiveness of sin ; or otherwise, which 
is probable, that the term " confidence," in the mind of the 
writer of the homily, was taken in a different sense when 
applied to God, the object of trust, and to the forgiveness of 
sin; and, when referred to the latter, meant that" persuasion 
of the fact of being forgiven, which must be attributed to a 
secret assurance of remission and acceptance by the Spirit of 
adoption, and which ordinarily closely follows, or is immedi- 
ately connected with, justifying faith, but which is not of its 
essence. But " confidence" in this sense implies filial confi- 
dence, the trust of a child-, of one already passed into the 
family of God; and hence this is rather the description of the 
habitual faith of a justified man, than of the act by which a 


sinner is justified and adopted. Mr. Wesley therefore soon 
perceived that the definition of justifying faith in this homily- 
needed some correction ; and he thus expressed his views in 
1747, in a letter to his brother : — 

" Is justifying faith a sense of pardon ? Negatur " It is 

" By justifying faith I mean that faith which whosoever hath 
not, is under the wrath and the curse of God. By a sense 
of pardon I mean a distinct, explicit assurance that my sins 
are forgiven. 

" I allow, 1. That there is such an explicit assurance. 2. 
That it is the common privilege of real Christians. 3. That 
it is the proper Christian faith which purifieth the heart and 
overcometh the world." 

"■ 5iit the assertion, that justifying faith is a sense of par- 
don, is contrary to reason : it is flatly absurd. For how can 
a sense of our having received pardon be the condition of our 
receiving it ? 

"But does not our Church give this account of justifying 
faith ? I am sure she does of saving or Christian faith : I 
think she does of justifying faith too. But to the law and to 
the testimony. All men may err; but the word of the Lord 
shall stand for ever." 

Mr. Wesley, however, still regarded that trust in the 
merits of Christ's death, in which justifying faith consists, as 
resulting from a supernatural conviction that Christ " loved 
me" as an individual, and " gave himself for me." In this 
he placed the proof that faith is " the gift of God," a work 
of the Holy Spirit, as being produced along with this convic- 
tion, or immediately following it. From this supernatural 
conviction, not only that God was in Christ "reconciling the 
world unto himself," but that he died " for my sins," there 
follows an entire committal of the case of the soul to the 
merits of the sacrifice of Christ, in an act of trust — in that 
moment, he held, God pardons and absolves him that so be- 
lieves or trusts, and that this, his pardon or justification, is 
then witnessed to. him by the Holy Ghost. Nor can a clearer 
or simpler view of stating this great subject, in accordance 
with the Scriptures, be well conceived. The state of a peni- 
tent is oue of various degrees of doubt, but all painful. Ho 
questions the love of God to him, from a deep sense of hia 


sin, although he may allow that he loves all the world beside. 
Before he can fully rely on Christ, and the promises of the 
gospel, he must have heightened and more influential views 
of God's love in Christ, and of his own interest in it. It is 
the office of the Holy Spirit "to take of the things of Christ, 
and show them to" the humble mind. This office of the 
Spirit agrees with that eXeyxog, or " divine conviction," of 
which Mr. Wesley speaks, and which shows, with the power 
of demonstrative evidence, the love of Christ to the individual 
himself in the intention of his sacrifice. From this results 
an entire and joyful acquiescence with the appointed method 
of salvation, and a full reliance upon it, followed, according 
to the promise of Scripture, with actual forgiveness, and the 
cheering testimony of the Spirit of adoption. Of this faith 
he allowed different degrees, yet the lowest degree saving; 
and also different degrees of assurance, and therefore of joy. 
He was careful to avoid binding the work of the Spirit to one 
rule, and to distinguish between that peace which flows from 
a comfortable persuasion of " acceptance through Christ," and 
those higher joys which may be produced by that more 
heightened assurance which God is pleased in many cases to 
impart. He taught that the essence of true justifying faith 
consists in the entire personal trust of the man of a penitent 
and broken spirit upon the merits of his Saviour, as having 
died for him ; and that to all who so believe, faith is " im- 
puted for righteousness;" or, in other words, pardon was 
administered.* ' 

* That Mr. Wesley did not hold that assurance of personal pardon 
is of the essence of justifying faith, is certain, from the remarks in 
his letter to his brother before quoted, in -which he plainly states, 
that to believe that I am pardoned in order to pardon, is an absurdity 
and a contradiction. There will, however, appear some obscurity in 
a few other passages in his writings, unless we notice the sense in 
which he uses certain terms, a matter in which he never felt himself 
bound by the systematic phraseology of scholastic theologians. Thus 
there is an apparent discrepancy between the statement of his views 
as given above, and the following passage in his sermon on the 
" Scripture Way of Salvation :" 

"Taking the word in a more particular sense, faith is a divine evi- 
dence and conviction, not only that ' God was in Christ, reconciling 
the world unto himself;' but also that Christ loved me and gave himself 
forme. It is by faith (whether .we term it the essence, or rather a 


The immediate fruits of justifying faith are stated in these 
Minutes to be " peace, joy, love : power over all outward sin, 
and power to keep down inward sin." Justifying faith, when 
lost, is not again attainable, except by repentance and prayer; 
but " no believer need come again into a state of doubt, 
or fear, or darkness; and that (ordinarily at least) he will 
not, unless by ignorance or unfaithfulness." Assaults of 
doubt and fear are, .however, admitted, even after great con- 
fidence and joy; and "occasional heaviness of spirit before 
large manifestations of the presence and favor of God." To 
these views of doctrine may be added, that regeneration or 
the new birth is held to be concomitant with justification. 
" Good works cannot go before this faith ; much less can 

property thereof) that we receive Christ, that we receive him in all his 
offices, as Prophet, Priest, and King. It is by this that he is ' made 
of God unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and re- 

"'But is this the faith of assurance, or the faith of adherence?' 
The Scripture mentions no such distinction. The apostle says, 
'There is one faith, and one hope of our calling;' one Christian, 
saving faith, ' as there is one Lord,' in whom we believe, ' and one 
God and Father of us all.' And it is certain, this faith necessarily 
implies an assurance (which is here only another word for evidence, 
it being hard to tell the difference between them) that Christ loved 
me and gave himself for me. For ' he that believeth,' with the true 
living faith, 'hath the witness in himself:' 'the Spirit witnesseth 
with his spirit, that he is a child of God.' ' Because he is a son, God 
hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into his heart, cuying, Abba, Fa- 
ther;' giving bim an assurance that he is so, and a childlike confi- 
dence in him. But let it be observed that, in the very nature of the 
thing, the assurance goes before the confidence. For a man cannot 
have a childlike confidence in God till he know he is a child of God. 
Therefore, confidence, trust, reliance, adherence, or whatever else it 
be called, is not the first, as some have supposed, but the second 
branch or act of faith." 

Yet in fact the only difficulty arises from not attending to his mode 
of stating the case, and his use of the term assurance. "When he says 
that faith includes both adherence and assurance, it is obvious that 
he does not mean by assurance, the assurance of personal acceptance, 
which he distinctly, in the same passage, ascribes to the direct testi- 
mony of the Spirit of God ; but the assurance that Christ " died for 
me," "for my sins," which special manifestations of God's love in 
Christ to me as an individual, producing an entire trust in the Divine 
eacrince for sin, he attributes to a supernatural elenchos or conviction. 
This, however, he considers as a "conviction" in order to faith or 


sauctification, which implies a continued course of good works, 
springing from holiness of heart; but they follow after;" 
and the reason given for this is, that as salvation, which in- 
cludes a present deliverance from sin, a restoration of the soul 
to its primitive health, the renewing of the soul after the im- 
age of God, all holy and heavenly tempers and conversation, 
is by faith, it cannot precede faith, which is the appointed in- 
strument of attaining it. To increase in all these branches 
of holiness, the exercise of faith in prayer, and the use of all 
the means appointed by God, are also necessary : a living faith 
being that which unites the soul to Christ, and secures the 
constant indwelling and influence of the Holy Spirit in the 
heart. Such a faith must therefore necessarily lead to uni- 

trust; and theD the act of personal and entire trust in this manifested 
love and goodness is succeeded by the direct testimony of the Spirit 
of Adoption, which he tells us gives a man "the assurance that he is 
a child of God, and a childlike confidence in him." And when he 
goes on so truly to state that, "in the very nature of the thing, the 
assurance goes before the confidence," and that "confidence, trust, 
or reliance," is not the first but the second branch of faith, he evi- 
dently does not here mean that confidence and trust in the merit 
of Christ by which we are justified, but filial trust and confidence in 
God as our reconciled Father, which must necessarily be subsequent 
to the other. According to Mr. "Wesley's views, the order of our 
passing into a state of justification, and conscious reconcilement to 
God, is, 1. True repentance, which, however, gives us no worthiness, 
and establishes no claim upon pardon, although it so necessarily pre- 
cedes justifying faith, that all trust even in the merits of Christ for 
salvation would be presumptuous and unauthorized withoutrepentance; 
"since," as he says, "Christ is not even to be offered to the careless 
sinner."* 2. A supernatural elenchos, or assured conviction, that 
" Christ loved me, and gave himself for me," in the intention' of his 
death ; inciting to and producing full aquiescence with God's method 
of saving the guilty, and an entire personal trust in Christ's atone- 
ment for sin. Of this trust, actual justification is the result; but 
then follows, 3. The direct testimony of the Holy Spirit, giving assu- 
rance in different degrees, in different persons, and often in the same 
person, that I am a child of God ; and, 4. Filial confidence in God. 
The elenchos, the trust, the Spirit's witness, and the filial confidence, he 
held, were frequently, but not always, so closely united as not to be 
distinguished as to time, though each is, from its nature, successive 
and distinct. 

* Sermon on " The Law established through Faith." 


versal holiness of heart and life, and stands as an impregnable 
barrier against Pharisaism on the one hand, and. the pollu- 
tions of Aotinoniianisru on the other. 

On another doctrine, in defence of which Mr. Wesley after- 
wards wrote much, these early Minutes of Conference contain 
perhaps the best epitome of "his views, and may be somewhat 
at length quoted :. 

"Q. 1. What is it to be sanctified ? 

"A. To be renewed in the image of God, in righteousness 
and true holiness. 

• "Q. 2. Is faith the condition, or the instrument, of sanc- 
tification ? 

"A. It is both the condition and instrument of it. When 
we begin to believe, then sanctification begins. .And 'as faith 
increases, holiness increases, till we are created anew. 

"Q. 3. What is implied in being a perfect Christian ? 

"A. The loving the Lord our God with all our heart, and 
with all our mind and soul and strength. (Deut. vi. 5 j xxx. 
6 : Ezek. xxxvi. 25-29.) 

" Q. 4. Does this imply that all inward sin is taken way? 

"A. Without doubt; or how could he be said to be saved 
'from all his uncleannesses V (Ezek. xxxvi. 29. ") 

And again, — 

" Q. 1. How much is allowed by our brethren who differ 
from us, with regard to entire sanctification ? 

"A. They grant, 1. That every one must be entirely sanc- 
tified in the article of death. 

" 2. That, till then, a believer daily grows in grace, comes 
nearer and nearer to perfection. 

"3. That we ought to be continually pressing after this, 
and to exhort all others so to do. 

" Q. 2. What do we allow to them ? 

"A. We grant, 1. That many of those who have died in 
the faith, yea, the greater part of those we have known, were 
not sanctified throughout, not made perfect in love, till a little 
before death. 

" 2. That the term ' sanctified,' is continually applied by 
St. Paul to all that were justified, were true believers. 

"3. That by this term alone, he rarely (if ever) means, 
saved from all sin. 

" 4. That, consequently, it is not proper to use it in this 


sense, without adding the word 'wholly, entirety/ or the 

" 5. That the inspired writers almost continually speak of 
or to those who were justified ; but very rarely, either of or 
to those who were wholly sanctified. 

"6. That, consequently, it behooves us to speak in public 
almost continually of the state of justification ; but more 
rarely, at least in full and explicit terms, concerning entire 

" Q. 3. What then is the point wherein we divide ? 

"A. It is this; whether we should expect to be saved 
from all sin before the article of death. 

"Q. 4. Is there any clear scripture promise of this? that 
God will save us from all sin ? 

"A. There is : Psalm cxxx. 8, ' He shall redeem Israel 
from all his sins/ 

" This is more largely expressed in the prophecy of Eze- 
kiel : ' Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and you 
shall be clean ; from all your filthiness and from all your idols 
will I cleanse you. I will also save you from all your unclean- 
nesses :' (chap, xxxvi. 25, 29.) No promise can be more 
clear. And to this the apostle plainly refers in that exhorta- 
tion, l Having these promises, let us cleanse ourselves from all 
filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of 
God.' (2 Cor. vii. 1.) Equally clear and express is that 
ancient promise, ' The Lord thy God will circumcise thine 
heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God 
with all thy heart, and with all thy soul/ (Deut. xxx. 6.) 

" Q. 5. But does any assertion answerable to this occur in 
the New Testament ? 

"A. There does, and that laid down in the plainest terms. 
So 1 John iii. 8, ' For this purpose the Son of God was mani- 
fested, that he might destroy the works of the devil ;' the 
works of the devil, without any limitation or restriction ; but 
all sin is the work of the devil. Parallel to which is that 
assertion of St. Paul, (Eph. v. 25, 27,) ' Christ loved the 
Church, and gave himself for it, that he might present it to 
himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any 
such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish/ 

"And to the same effect is his assertion in the eighth of 
Romans, (verses 3, 4,) ( God sent his Son, that the righteous- 


ness of the law might be fulfilled in us, walking not after the 
flesh, but after the Spirit.' 

" Q. 6. Does the New Testament afford any further ground 
for expecting to be saved from all sin ? 

"A. Undoubtedly it does, both in those prayers and com- 
mands which are equivalent to the strongest assertions. 

" Q. 7 What prayers do you mean ? 

"A. Prayers for entire sanctification, which, were there no 
such thing, would be mere mockery of God. Such in par- 
ticular are, 1. ' Deliver us from evil f or rather, ' from the 
evil one/ Now when this is done, when we are delivered 
from all evil, there can be no sin remaining. 2. 'Neither 
pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe 
on me through their word ; that they all may be one ; as thou, 
Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one 
in us : I in them and thou in mo, that they may be made per- 
fect in one.' (John xvii. 20, 21, 23.) 3. 'I bow my knees 
unto the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ/ that he 
would grant you, l that* ye, being rooted- and grounded in love, 
may be able to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth, 
and length, and depth, and height, and to know the love of 
Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with 
all the fulness of God.' (Eph. iii. 14, 16-19.) 4. < The very 
God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole 
spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the com- 
ing of our Lord Jesus Christ.' (1 Thess. v. 23.) 

u Q. 8. What command is there to the same effect ? 

"A. 1. 'Be ye perfect, as your Father which is in heaven 
is perfect.' (Matt. v. ult.) 

"2.^ < Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, 
and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.' (Matt. xxii. 
37 ) But if the love of God fill all the heart, there can be 
no sin there. 

"Q. 9. But how does it appear that this is to be done 
before the article of death ? 

"A. First, from the very nature of a command, which is 
not given to the dead, but to the living. 

" Therefore, ' Thou shalt love God with all thy heart,' can- 
not mean, Thou shalt do this when thou diest, but while thou 

" Secondly, from express texts of Scripture • 


:< 1. 'The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath 
appeared to all men ; teaching us that, having renounced 
(dpvrjad^evot) ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live 
soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world • looking 
for the glorious appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ; who 
gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all ini- 
quity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of 
good works/ (Titus ii. 11-14.) 

" 2. ' He hath raised up an horn of salvation for us, to per- 
form the mercy promised to our fathers ,• the oath which he 
sware to our father Abraham, that he would grant unto us, 
that we, being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, 
should serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness 
before him, all the days of our life.' (Luke i. 69, etc.) 

" Q. 16. Does not the harshly preaching perfection, tend to 
bring believers into a kind of bondage or slavish fear? 

"A. It does. Therefore we should always place it in the 
most amiable light, so that it may excite only hope, joy, and 

" Q. 17 Why may we not continue in the joy of faith, 
even till we are made perfect ? 

"A. Why indeed ? since holy grief does not quench this 
joy; since, even while we are under the cross, while we 
deeply partake of the sufferings of Christ, we may rejoice 
with joy unspeakable. 

"Q. 18. Do we not discourage believers from rejoicing 
evermore ? 

"A. We ought not so to do. Let them, all their life long, 
rejoice unto God, so it be with reverence. And even if light- 
ness or pride should mix with their joy, let us not strike at 
the joy itself, (this is the gift of God,) but at that lightness 
or pride, that the evil may cease, and the good remain. 

" Q. 20. But ought we not to be troubled on account of 
the sinful nature which still remains in us ? 

"A. It is good for us to have a deep sense of this, and to 
be much ashamed before the Lord. But this should only 
incite us the more earnestly to turn unto Christ every moment, 
and to draw light, and life, and strength from him, that we 
may go on, conquering and to conquer. And, therefore, when 
the sense of our sin most abounds, the sense of his love 
3hould much more abound." 


The doctrine of assurance, and the source of it, the testi- 
mony of the Holy Spirit, as the Spirit of adoption, are fre- 
quently referred to in these early doctrinal conversations. 
This, however, is more fully stated in Mr. Wesley's sermons j 
and the following extracts will be necessary to present his 
views on this subject in their true light : 

"But what is the witness of the Spirit? The original 
word, fiaprvpia, may be rendered eith'er (as it is in several 
places) the witness, or, less ambiguously, the testimony, or 
the record. So it is rendered in our translation, (i John v. 
11.) ' This is the record,' the testimony, the sum of what 
God testifies in all the inspired writings, ' that God hath given 
unto us eternal life, and this life is in his Son/ The testi- 
mony now under consideration is given by the Spirit of God 
to and with our spirit. He is the Person testifying. What 
he testifies to us is ' that we are the children of God.' The 
immediate result of this testimony is 'the fruit of the Spirit;' 
namely, love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness/ 
And without these, the testimony itself cannot continue. For 
it is inevitably destroyed, not only by the commission of any 
outward sin, or the omission of known duty, but by giving way 
to any inward sin; in a word, by whatever grieves the Holy 
Spirit of God. 

" -. I observed many years ago, It is hard to find words 
in the language of men to explain the deep things of God. 
Indeed, there are none that will adequately express what the 
Spirit of God works in his children. But, perhaps, one might 
say, (desiring any who are taught of God to - correct, soften, 
or strengthen the expression,) By the ' testimony of the 
Spirit ' I mean, an inward impression on the soul, whereby 
the Spirit of God immediately and directly witnesses to my 
spirit that I am a child of God; that 'Jesus Christ hath 
loved me, and given himself for me;' that all my sins are 
blotted out, and I, even J, am reconciled to God. 

"o. After twenty years' further consideration, I see no 
cause to retract any part of this. Neither do I conceive how 
any of these expressions may be altered, so as to make them 
more intelligible. I can only add, that if any of the children 
of God will point out any other expressions which are more 
clear, or more agreeable to the word of God ; I will readily lay 
these aside. 


a 4. Meantime let it be observed, I do not hereby, 
that the Spirit of God testifies this by any outward voice ; no, 
nor always by an inward voice, although he may do this 
sometimes. Neither do I suppose that he always applies to 
the heart (though he often may) one or more texts of Scrip- 
ture. But he so works upon the soul by his immediate influ- 
ence, and by strong though inexplicable operation, that the 
stormy wind and troubled waves subside, and there is a sweet 
calm ; the heart resting as in the arms of Jesus, and the sin- 
ner being clearly satisfied that all his ' iniquities are forgiven, 
and his sins covered/ 

"5. Now, what is the matter of dispute concerning this? 
Not, whether there be a witness or testimony of the Spirit. 
Not, whether the Spirit does testify with our spirit that we 
are the children of God. None can deny this, without flatly 
contradicting the Scriptures, and charging a lie upon the God 
of truth. Therefore, that there is a testimony of the Spirit, 
is acknowledged by all parties. • 

" 6. Neither is it questioned, whether there is an indirect 
witness or testimony that we are the children of God. This 
is nearly, if hot exactly, the same with the 'testimony of a 
good conscience toward God;' and is the result of reason, or 
reflection on what we feel in our own souls. Strictly speak- 
ing, it is a conclusion drawn partly from the word of God, 
and partly from our own experience. The word of God says, 
every one who has the fruit of the Spirit is a child of God. 
Experience or inward consciousness tells me that I have the 
fruit of the Spirit; and hence, I rationally conclude, there- 
fore I am a child of God. This is likewise allowed on all 
hands, and so is no matter of controversy. 

'" 7 Nor do we assert that there can be any real testimony 
of the Spirit without the fruit of the Spirit We assert, on the 
contrary, that the fruit of the Spirit immediately springs from 
this testimony; not always, indeed, in the same degree even 
when the testimony is first given, and much less afterwards. 
Neither joy nor peace is always at one stay; no, nor love; as 
neither is the testimony itself always equally strong and clear. 

"8. But the point in question is, whether there be any 
direct testimony of the Spirit at all ; whether there be any 
other testimony of the Spirit than that which arises from a 
consciousness of the fruit. 


"1. I believe there is, because that is the plain, natural 
meaning of the text, ' The Spirit itself beareth witness with 
our spirit that we are the children of God/ It is manifest, 
here are two witnesses mentioned, who together testily the 
same thing, the Spirit of God, and our own spirit. The late 
Bishop of London, in his sermon on this text, seems asto- 
nished that any one can doubt of this, which appears upon 
the very face of the words. Now, ' the testimony of our own 
spirit/ says the Bishop, 'is one, which is the consciousness of 
our own sincerity;' or, to express the same thing a little more 
clearly, the consciousness of the fruit of the Spirit. When 
our spirit is conscious of this, of love, joy, peace, long-suffer- 
ing, gentleness, goodness, it easily infers, from these premises, 
that we are the children of God. 

" 2. It is true, that great man supposes the other witness 
to be 'the consciousness of our own good works/ This, he 
affirms, is 'the testimony of God's Spirit/ But this is in- 
cluded in the testimony of our own spirit; yea, and in sin- 
cerity, even according to the common sense of the word. So 
the apostle: 'Our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our con- 
science, that in simplicity and godly sincerity we have our 
conversation in the world ;' where it is plain, sincerity refers 
to our words and actions at least as much as to our inward 
dispositions. So that this ds not another witness, but the very 
same that he mentioned before; the consciousness of our good 
works being only one branch of the consciousness of our 
sincerity. Consequently, here is only one witness still. If, 
therefore, the text speaks of two witnesses, one of these is 
not the consciousness of our good works, neither of our sin- 
cerity ; all this being manifestly contained in ' the testimony 
of our spirit/ 

" 3. What, then, is the other witness ? This might easily 
be learned, if the text itself were not sufficiently clear, from 
the verse immediately preceding : ' Ye have received, not the 
spirit of bondage, but the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, 
Abba, Father!' It follows, ' The Spirit itself beareth witness 
with our spirit that we are the children of God/ 

"4. This is further explained by the parallel text: 'Be- 
cause ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Sou 
into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father!' (Gal. iv. 6.) Is not 
this something immediate and direct, not the result of reflec- 


tion or argumentation? Does not this Spirit cry, 'Abba, 
Father/ in our hearts, the moment it is given ? antecedently 
to any reflection upon our sincerity, yea, to any reasoning 
whatsoever? And is not - this the plain, natural sense of the 
words, which strikes any one as soon as he hears them ? All 
these texts, then, in their most obvious meaning, describe a 
direct testimony of the Spirit. * 

" 5. That the testimony of the Spirit of God must, in the 
very nature of things, be antecedent to -the testimony of our 
own spirit, may appear from this single consideration. We 
must be holy in heart and life before we can be conscious 
that we are so. But we must love God before we can be 
holy at all, this being the root of all holiness. Now, we can- 
not love God till we know he loves us : ' We love him, 
because he first loved us.' And we cannot know his love to 
us till his Spirit witnesses it to our spirit. Since, therefore, 
the testimony of his Spirit must precede the love of God and 
all holiness, of consequence it must precede our consciousness 

A doctrine so often misrepresented and misunderstood 
could not be so properly stated as in Mr. Wesley's own 
words ; and as many, and those even professing to be sober 
Christians, have, principally with reference to this doctrine, 
frequently opened upon this venerable man. the full cry of 
enthusiasm and fanatical delusion, it may be proper to add a 
few explanatory and defensive remarks, and that not merely 
for the sake of justice to his opinions, but in support of a 
great doctrine of revelation, most intimately connected with 
the hope and comfort of man. 

And, 1. The doctrine of assurance, as held by the founder 
of Methodism, was not the assurance of eternal salvation, as 
held by Calvinistic divines; but that persuasion which is 
given by the Holy Spirit to penitent and believing persons, 
that they are " now -accepted of God, pardoned, and adopted 
into God's family." It was an assurance, therefore, on the 
ground of which no relaxation of religious effort could be 
pleaded, and no unwatchfulness of spirit or irregularity of life 
allowed. For he taught, that only by the lively exercise of 
the same humble and obedient faith in the merits and in- 
tercession of Christ, this state of mind could be main- 
tained ; and it was made by him a motive (influential as 


our desire of inward peace can be influential) to vigilance and 

2. This doctrine cannot be denied without disconnecting: 
religion from peace of mind, and habitual consolation. For 
if it is the doctrine of the inspired records, and of all orthodox 
Churches, that man is by nature prone to evil, and that in 
practice he violates that law under which as a creature he is 
placed, and is thereby exposed to punishment ; if, also, it is 
there stated, that an act of grace and pardon is promised on 
the conditions of repentance towards God, and faith in our 
Lord Jesus Christ; if that repentance implies consideration 
of our ways, a sense of the displeasure of Almighty God, con- 
trition of heart, and consequently trouble and grief of mind, 
mixed, however, with hope, inspired by the promise of for- 
giveness, and which leads to earnest supplication for the 
actual pardon of sin so promised, it will follow, from these 
premises, either that forgiveness is not to be expected till 
after the termination of our course of probation, that is, in 
another life ; and that, therefore, this trouble and apprehen- 
sion of mind can only be assuaged by the hope we may have 
of a favorable final decision on our case; or, that sin is in 
the present life forgiven as often as it is thus repented of, 
and as often as we exercise the required and specific acts of 
trust in the merits of our Saviour ; but that this forgiveness 
of our sins is not in any way made known unto us; so that 
we are left, as to our feelings, in precisely the same state as 
if sin were not forgiven till after death, namely, in grief and 
trouble of mind, relieved only by hope; or, that when sin is 
forgiven by the mercy of God through Christ, we are, by 
some means, assured of it, and peace and satisfaction of mind 
take the place of anxiety and fear. 

The first of these conclusions is sufficiently disproved by 
the authority of Scripture, which exhibits justification as a 
blessing attainable in this life, and represents it as actually 
experienced by true believers. "Therefore, being justified 
by faith," etc. "There is now no condemnation to them 
who are in Christ Jesus/' " Whosoever believeth is justi- 
fied from all things," etc. The quotations might be multi- 
plied, but these are decisive. The notion that, though an 
act of forgiveness may take place, wc arc unable to ascertain 
a fact so important to us, is also irreconcilable with many" 


texts in which the writers of the New Testament speak of 
an experience, not confined personally to themselves, or to 
those Christians who were endowed with spiritual gifts, but 
common to all Christians. " Being justified by faith, we 
have peace with God." " We joy in God, by whom we have 
received the reconciliation." "Being reconciled unto God 
by the death of his Son." " We have not received the 
spirit of bondage again unto fear, but the Spirit of adoption, 
whereby we cry, Abba, Father !" To these may be added 
innumerable passages, which express the comfort, the confi- 
dence, and the joy of Christians; their "friendship" with 
God ; their " access" to him ; their entire union and delight- 
ful intercourse with him ; and their absolute confidence in 
the success of their prayers. All such passages are perfectly 
consistent with deep humility and self-diffidence; but they 
are irreconcilable with a state of hostility between the parties, 
and with an unascertained, and only hoped-for, restoration of 
friendship and favor. 

3. The services of the Church, of which Mr. Wesley was 
a minister, may be pleaded also in support of his opinions on 
this subject. Those services, though, with propriety, as 
being designed for the use, not of true Christians only, but 
of mixed congregations, they abound in acts of confession, 
and the expressions of spiritual grief, exhibit also this confi- 
dence and peace, as objects of earnest desire and hopeful 
anticipation, and as blessings attainable in the present life. 
We pray to be made "children, by adoption and grace;" to 
be " relieved from the fear of punishment by the comfort 
of God's grace ;" not to be " left comfortless, but that God, 
the King of glory, would send to us the Holy Ghost to com- 
fort us;" and that, by the same Sprit, having a right judg- 
ment in all things, "we may evermore rejoice in his holy 
comfort." In the prayer directed to be used for one trou- 
bled in mind or in conscience, we have also the following 
impressive petitions : " Break not the bruised reed, nor quench 
the smoking flax. Shut not up thy tender mercies in dis- 
pleasure, but make him to hear of joy and gladness, that the 
bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Deliver him 
from the fear of the enemy, and lift up the light of thy coun- 
tenance upon him, and give him peace." Now, unless it be 
contended that by these petitions we are directed to seek 


what we can never find, and always to follow that which we 
can never overtake, the Church, in the spirit of the New 
Testament, assumes that the forgiveness of sins, and the 
relief of the sorrows of the penitent state, are attainable, with 
those consequent comforts and joys which can only arise 
from some assurance of mind, by whatever means and in 
whatever degree communicated, that we have a personal 
interest in the general promise, and that we are reconciled to 
God by the death of his Son. For since the general promise 
is made to many who will never be benefited by it, it cannot 
of itself be the ground of a settled religious peace of mind. 
As it is a promise of blessings to be individually experienced, 
unless I can have personal experience of them, it holds up to 
hope what can never come into fruition.* 

* " Faith is not merely a speculative but a practical acknowledg- 
ment of Jesus as the Christ ; an effort and motion of the mind towards 
God; when the sinner, convinced of sin, accepts with thankfulness 
the proffered terms of pardon, and, in humble confidence applying 
individually to himself the benefit of the general atonement, in the 
elevated language of a venerable father of the Church, drinks of the 
stream which flows from the Redeemer's side. The effect is, that in 
a little he is filled with that perfect love of God which casteth out 
fear : he cleaves to God with the entire affection of the soul. And 
from this active, lively faith, overcoming the world, subduing carnal 
self, all those good works do necessarily spring, which God hath 
before ordained that we should walk in them." — Bishop Housley's 

" The purchase, therefore, was paid at once, yet must be severally 
reckoned to every soul whom it shall benefit. If we have not a hand 
to take what Christ's hand doth either hold or offer, what is sufficient 
in him cannot be effectual to us. The spiritual hand, whereby we 
apprehend the sweet offer of our Saviour, is faith, which, in short, is 
no other than an affiance in the Mediator. Receive peace, and be 
happy ; believe, and thou hast received. Thus it is that we have an 
interest in all that God hath promised, or Christ hath performed. 
Thus have we from God both forgiveness and love, the ground of all 
whether peace or glory." — Bishop Hall's Heaven upon Earth. 

" It is the property of saving faith, that it hath a force to appro- 
priate and make Christ our own. Without this, a general remoto 
belief would have been cold comfort. ' He loved me, and gave him- 
holf for me,' saith St. Paul. What saith St. Clnysostom "> 'Did 
Christ die only for St. Paul? No; non exclndit, scd appropriate he 
excludes not others, but he will secure himself." — Bishop Browniugq, 
Sermon on Easter Day. 


An assurance, therefore, that those sins which were felt to 
"be a burden intolerable" are forgiven, and that all ground 
of that apprehension of future punishment which causes the 
penitent to "bewail his manifold sins," is removed by restora- 
tion to the favor of the offended God, must be allowed, or 
nothing would be more incongruous and indeed impossible 
than the comfort, the peace, the rejoicing of spirit which, in 
the Scriptures, are attributed to believers. If, indeed, self- 
condemnation, and the apprehension of danger, had no foun- 
dation but in the imagination, the case would be totally 
altered. Where there is no danger, deliverance is visionary; 
and the joy it inspires is raving and not reason. But if a real 
danger exists, and if We cannot escape it except by an act of 
grace on the part of Almighty God, we must have some evi- 
dence of his gracious interposition in our case, or the guilty 
gloom will abide upon us. The more sincere and earnest a 
person is in the affairs of his salvation, the more miserable he 
must become if there be no possibility of his knowing that 
tlie wrath of God no longer abideth upon him ; then the 
ways of wisdom would be no longer "ways of pleasantness, and 
paths of peace." 

4. Few real Christians, therefore, have ever denied the 
possibility of our becoming so persuaded of the favor and 
good will of God towards us as to produce substantial comfort 
to the mind, but they have differed in opinion as to the means 
by which this is acquired. Some have said that we obtain it 
by inference; others, by the direct inward testimony of the 
Holy Spirit. The latter, as we have seen, was the opinion 
of Mr. Wesley; but he never failed to connect this doctrine 
with another, which, on the authority of St. Paul, he calls 
"the witness of our own spirit;" "the consciousness of hav- 
ing received, in and by the Spirit of adoption, the tempers 
mentioned in the word of God, as belonging to his adopted 
children — a consciousness that we are inwardly conformed, 
by the Spirit of God, to the image of his Son, and that we 
walk before him in justice, mercy, and truth, doing the things 
which are pleasing in his sight." These two testimonies he 
never put asunder, although he assigned them distinct offices; 
and this cannot be overlooked if justice be done to his opi- 
nions. In order to prevent presumption, he reminds his 
readers that the direct testimony of the Holy Spirit is subse- 


quent to true repentance and faith; and, op the other hand, 
to guard against delusion, he asks, " How am I assured that 
I do not mistake the voice of the Spirit? Even by the tes- 
timony of my own spirit, ' by the answer of a good conscience 
towards God;' hereby you shall know that you are in no 
delusion, that you have not deceived your own soul. The 
immediate fruits of the Spirit ruling in the heart are love, joy, 
peace, bowels of mercy, humbleness of mind, meekness, gen- 
tleness, long-suifering. And the outward fruits are the doing 
good to all men, and a uniform obedience to all the com- 
mands of God." Where then is the enthusiasm of the doc- 
trine as thus stated? An enthusiastic doctrine is unsupported 
by the sacred records ; but in confirmation of this we read, 
" The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we 
are the children of God." Here the witnesses are the Spirit 
of God, and our own spirit ; and the fact to which the testi- 
mony is given is, that "we are the children of God." "And 
because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son 
into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father !" To these passages 
may be added all those texts which speak of the inward inter- 
course of the Spirit of God with believers ; of his dwelling in 
them and abiding with them, as the source of comfort and 
peace; and which, therefore, imply the doctrine. Nor can 
such passages be interpreted otherwise than as teaching the 
doctrine of assurance, conveyed immediately to the mind of 
true believers by the Holy Spirit, without allowing such prin- 
ciples of construction as would render the sense of Scripture 
uncertain, and unsettle the evidence of some of the most im- 
portant doctrines of our religion. 

It is true that a more "sober" and "less dangerous" me- 
thod, as it has been called, of obtaining a comfortable assu- 
rance of our justification before God, has been insisted upou 
as equally consistent with the word of God; but, upon ex- 
amination, it will be found delusive. This is what is termed 
a process of inference, and is thus explained : The question 
at issue is, "Am I a child of God ?" The Scriptures declare 
that "as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the 
sons of God." I inquire, then, whether I have the Spirit of 
God; and in order to determine this, I examine whether I 
have "the fruits of the Spirit." Now, "the fruits of the 


Spirit are love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, meekness, 
faith, temperance;" aud having sufficient evidence of the 
existence of these fruits, I conclude that I have the Spirit of 
God, and am, therefore, a pardoned and accepted child of 
God. This is the statement. But among these enumerated 
fruits of the Spirit we find love, joy, and peace, as well as 
gentleness, goodness, meekness, fidelity, and temperance; and 
if it be said that no man has a right to assume that he is so 
"led by the Spirit of God," as to conclude that he is "a 
child of God," who has only the affections of " peace and joy" 
to ground his confidence upon, we have as good a reason to 
affirm the same thing, if he has "meekness and temperance," 
without "love, and peace, and joy;" the love, the peace, 
and the joy being as much fruits of the Spirit as the moral 
qualities also enumerated. 

But can "love," love to God as our Father; "peace," 
peace with God, as in a state of friendship with us ; and 
"joy," "joy in God by whom we have received the recon- 
ciliation," exist at all without a previous or concomitant assu- 
rance of the Divine forgiveness and favor? Surely nothing is 
so clear, as that it is not possible to love God as a Father and a 
Friend, whilst he is still regarded as an offended Sovereign 
and a vengeful Judge; and that to feel a sense of his dis- 
pleasure, and to be at "peace" with him and to rejoice in 
him, are contradictions; and if so, the very ground of this 
inference that we are in the Divine favor, and adopted into 
his family, is taken away. This whole inferential process 
proceeds upon dividing the undivided fruit of the Spirit, for 
which we have assuredly no authority ; nor indeed have we 
any reason to conclude that we have that gentleness, that 
goodness, that meekness, etc., which the apostle describes, 
should the " love, joy, and peace," which he places among the 
leading fruits 01 the Spirit, be wanting. If, then, the whole 
undivided fruit of the Spirit be taken as the medium of ascer- 
taining the fact of our forgiveness and adoption, and if it is 
even absurd to suppose that we can love God, whilst yet we 
feel him to be angry with us; and that we can rejoice and 
have peace, whilst the fearful apprehensions of the conse- 
quences of unremitted sin are not removed from our minds, 
then the only ground of our " love, joy, and peace," is par- 


don, revealed and witnessed, directly and immediately, by the 
Spirit of adoption.* 

The mind of Mr. "Wesley was also too discriminating, not 
to perceive that, in the scheme of attaining assurance by in- 
ference from moral changes only, there was a total neglect of 
the offices explicitly ascribed to the Holy Spirit in the New 
Testament, and which, on this scheme, are unnecessary. These 
are clearly stated to be that of '.'bearing witness" with the 
spirits of believers that they are the children of God ; that 
of the Spirit of adoption, by which they call God Father, in 
the special sense in which it is correlative to that sonship 

* The precedence of the direct witness of the Spirit of God to the 
indirect witness of our own, and the dependence of the latter upon 
the former, are very clearly stated by three divines of great author- 
ity ; to whom I refer the rather, because many of their followers of 
the present day have become very obscure in their statements of this 
branch of Christian experience : 

"St. Paul means, that the Spirit of God gives such a testimony to 
us, that he being our guide and teacher, our spirit concludes our 
adoption of God to be certain. For our own mind, of itself, inde- 
pendent of the preceding testimony of the Spirit, [nisi prceeunte 
Spiritus testimonio,] could not produce this persuasion in us. For 
whilst the Spirit witnesses that we are the sons of God, he at the 
same time inspires this confidence into our minds, that we are bold to 
call God'our Father." — Calvin on Romans viii. 16. 

"Romans viii. 16. 'The Spirit itself beareth witness with our 
spirits that we are the sons of God :' The witness which our own 
spirits do give unto our adoption is the work and effect of the Holy 
Spirit in us ; if it were not, it would be false, and not confirmed by 
the testimony of the Spirit himself, Who is the Spirit of truth ; 'and 
none knoweth the things of God but the Spirit of God.' (1 Cor. ii. 
11.) If he declare not our sonship in us and to us, we cannot know 
it. How doth he then bear witness to our spirits ? What is the dis- 
tinct testimony ? It must be some such act of his as evidenceth 
itself to be from him, immediately, unto them that are concerned in 
it, that is, those unto whom it is given." — Dr. Owen on the Spirit, 
sect. 0. 

" The Spirit of adoption doth not only excite us to cull upon God 
as our Father, but it doth ascertain and assure us, as before, that we 
are his children. And this it doth not by an outward voice, as God 
the Futher to Jesus Christ, nor by an angel, as to Daniel and the 
Virgin Mary, but by an inward and secret suggestion, whereby he 
raiseth our hearts to this persuasion, that God is our Father, and we 
are his children. This is not the testimony of the graces and operations 
of the Spirit, but of the Spirit itself." — Poole on Romans viii. 16. 


which we obtain only by a justifying faith in Christ; and 
that of a Comforter, promised to the disciples to abide with 
them "for ever," that their "joy might be full." 

Enough has been said on this subject to show that Mr. 
Wesley, on this doctrine, was neither rash nor inconsiderate, 
much less enthusiastic. It is grounded on no forced, no fan- 
ciful interpretation of Scripture; and it maintains, as of 
possible attainment, one of the richest and most important 
comforts of the human mind. It leaves no doubt as to a 
question which, whilst problematical, must, if we are earnest 
in seeking our salvation, be fatal to our. peace; it supposes an 
intercourse between God and the minds of good men, which 
is, surely, in the full and genuine spirit of the Christian reli- 
gion, eminently called the "ministration of the Spirit;" and 
it is, as taught by him, vitally connected with sober, practical 
piety. That, like the doctrine of justification by faith alone, 
it is capable of abuse, is very true. Many have perverted 
both the one and the other. Faith with some has been made 
a discharge from duty ; and with respect to the direct witness 
of the Spirit, fancy has no doubt been taken, in some in- 
stances, for reality. But this could never legitimately follow 
from the holy preaching of the founder of Methodism. His 
view of the doctrine is so opposed to license and real enthu- 
siasm, to pride and self-sufficiency, that it can only be made 
to encourage them by so manifest a perversion, that it has 
never occurred, except among those most ignorant of his 
writings. He never encouraged any to expect this grace but 
the truly penitent; and he prescribed to them " fruits meet 
for repentance." He believed that justification was always 
accompanied by a renewal of the heart; and as constantly 
taught, that the comfort " of the Holy Ghost" could remain 
*the portion only of the humble and spiritual, and was uni- 
formly and exclusively connected with a sanctifying and obe- 
dient faith. He saw that the fruits of the Spirit were " love, 
joy, peace," as well as "gentleness, goodness, meekness, and 
faith ;" but he also taught, that all who were not living under 
the constant influence of the latter would fatally deceive 
themselves by any pretensions to the former. 

Such were the views of the first Methodists on these impor- 
tant points; and such are the unchanged opinions of their 
successors to this day. They may be called peculiarities, be- 


cause they differed in some respects from the same doctrines 
of justification, faith, assurance, and sanctification, when asso- 
ciated with various modifications of Calvinism ; and although 
somewhat similar doctrines are found in many Arminian 
writers, yet in the theology of the Wesley s they derive life 
and vigor from the stronger views of the grace of God which 
were taught them by their Moravian and Calvinistic brethren. 
No man more honestly sought truth than Mr. Wesley, and 
none more rigidly tried all systems by the law and the testi- 
mony. As to authority, he was " a man of one book ;"* and 
whatever may be thought peculiar in his views, he drew from 
that source by the best application of his judgment. He 
wanted not, however, authority of another kind for his lead- 
ing opinions. On the article of justification he agreed with 
all the Reformed Churches ; his notion of saving faith was 
substantially that of the divines of the best ages of the Refor- 
mation, and of still earlier times; nor was his doctrine of the 

* The following beautiful and striking passage, illustrative of tlie 
above remark, is from the preface to his Sermons : 

" To candid, reasonable men, I am not afraid to lay open what have 
been the inmost thoughts of my heart. I have thought, I am a crea- 
ture of a day, passing through life, as an arrow through the air. I 
am a spirit come from God, and returning to God : just hovering over 
the great gulf; till, a few moments hence, I am no more seen! I 
drop into an unchangeable eternity ! I want to know one thing, the 
way to heaven ; how to land safe on that happy shore. God himself 
has condescended to teach the way ; for this very end he came from 
heaven. He hath written it down in a book. give me that book! 
At any price, give me the book of God ! I have it: Here is know- 
ledge enough for me. Let me be homo unius libri, 'a man of one book.' 
Here, then, I am, far from the busy ways of men. I sit down alone ; 
only God is here! In his presence I open, T read, his book; for this 
end, to find the way to heaven. Is there a doubt concerning the 
meaning of what I read? Does any thing appear dark and intricate ? 
I lift up my heart to tho Father of lights. Lord, is it not thy word, 
'If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of G<>d?' Thou 'givest libe- 
rally, and upbraidest not.' Thou hast said, 'If any be willing to do 
thy will, he shall know.' I am willing to do ; let me know thy will. 
I then search after and consider parallel passages of Scripture, ' com- 
paring spiritual things with spiritual.' I meditate thereon, with all 
the attention and earnestness of which my mind is capable. If any 
doubt still remain, I consult those who are experienced in the things 
of God ; and then, the writings, whereby, being dead, they yet speak. 
And what I thus learn, that I teach." 


direct witness of the Spirit to our adoption one as to which 
any exclusive peculiarity could be attributed to him, except 
that he more largely and zealously preached it than any other 
man in modern times. It was the doctrine of Luther, Calvin, 
Beza, Arminius, and others of equally eminent rank abroad 
and at home. We may add, also, that such prelates and 
divines as Hooper, Andrews, Hall, Hooker-, Usher, Brown- 
rigg, Wake, Pearson, Barrow, Owen, and Poole, have ex- 
pressed it in terms as explicit, and with equal deference to 
the testimony of the word of God. 

The Minutes of the early Conferences are not confined to 
doctrinal discussions ) but we see in them the frame of the 
discipline of the body, growing up from year to year, and 
embodied in many copious directions and arrangements. The 
most important of these remain in force to this day, although 
some in a maturer state of the society have gone into disuse. 
This discipline need not particularly be specified, as being for 
the most part well known and established ; but a few miscel- 
laneous particulars may be selected from the Minutes of seve- 
ral successive years, as being in some instances of great 
importance, and in others characteristic, and occasionally 

The duty of obeying bishops was considered at the very 
first Conference of 1744 : and the conclusion is. that this 
obedience extends only to things indifferent ; a rather strict 
narrowing up of canonical obedience, at this early period. 
The establishment of "a seminary for laborers" was a subject 
of consideration at this Conference also, but was postponed 
The reasons why it was not afterwards carried into effect ap- 
pear to have been, the rapid spread of the work, and the con- 
sequent demand for additional preachers. Mr. Wesley also 
looked to Kingswood school as subsidiary to this design. In 
the mean time he enjoined the study of the Greek and Latin 
poets and historians, as well as the original Scriptures, upon 
the preachers; and a large course of theological and general 
reading. This shows his views as to the subserviency of lite- 
rature to usefulness in the ministry.* 

* As the subject of a seminary or college has been of late brought 
under discussion, it may be not uninteresting to those who have not 
access to the manuscript copies of the first Minutes, extracts from 


No preaching was to be continued where societies were not 
raised up. It seems to have been a fixed maxim with the 
Weslcys, not to spend time in cultivating .barren ground. No 
band-ticket was to be given to the wearers of ruffles — a prac- 
tice which, though then common, accorded not with their 
notions either of good taste, or of the duty of economizing 
money in order to charity. Equal strictness was observed as 
to the dress of females. Simplex munditiis was Mr. Wesley's 
classical rule ; and the exclusive "■ ornament of a meek and 
quiet spirit," his scriptural one. All who married unbelievers 
were to be expelled from the society. The people were re- 
quired not only to stand during singing, but whilst the text 
was read. This excellent custom now continues only in Ire- 
laud. Dram-drinking and pawnbroking were also sins of 
exclusion; so that, in fact, the Methodist societies were the 
first temperance societies. Reading was enjoined as a reli- 
gious duty, and every preapher was bound to circulate every 
new book published or recommended by Mr.- Wesley; so anx- 
ious was he to spread useful knowledge through society, and 
to improve at once the intellects and the hearts of his people. 
The officers of the society are said to be "clergymen, assist- 
ants, helpers, stewards, leaders of bands, leaders of classes, 
visitors of the sick, schoolmasters, and housekeepers." The 
last class will in the present day create a smile; but at that 
time their business was to reside in the houses built in several 
of the large towns, where both Mr. Wesley and the preachers 
took up their abode during their stay. They were elderly and 
pious women, who, being once invested with an official char- 
acter, extended it sometimes from the house to the church, 
to the occasional annoyance of the preachers. As married 
preachers began to occupy the houses, they were at length 
dispensed with. Smuggling, and the buying of uncustomed 
goods, had frequent anathemas dealt out against them, and 
expulsion was the unmitigated penalty Respect of persons 

which only arc in print, to give the passages which relate to this sub- 
ject from the complete Minutes of 1744 and 1745. In the former 
year it is asked, "Can wo have a seminary for laborers?" and the 
answer is, " If God spare us till another Conference." The next year 
the subject was resumed, "Can we have a seminary for laborers yet?" 
Answer: "Not till God gives us a proper tutor." So that the insti- 
tution was actually resolved upon, and delayed only by oircumstances. 


was strictly forbidden to the preachers, who were also enjoined 
to be easy of access to all. Every preacher was to promise 
rather to break a limb than to disappoint a congregation. No 
preacher was to be continued who could not preach twice every 
day. He was to take care that only suitable tunes should be 
sung; and was advised to use in public only hymns of prayer 
and praise, not those descriptive of states of mind. Lemonade 
was to be taken after preaching, or candied orange-peel, or a 
little warm ale; but egg and wine, and late suppers, are de- 
nounced as downright poison. The views entertained of a 
call to the ministry deserve quoting in full : 

" Q. How shall we try those who think they are moved by 
the Holy Ghost, and called of God to preach ? 

a A. Inquire, 1. Do they know God as a pardoning God? 
Have they the love of God abiding in them ? Do they de- 
sire and seek nothing but God ? And are they holy in all 
manner of conversation ? , 

" 2. Have they gifts (as well as grace) for the work ? 
Have they a clear, sound understanding? Have they a 
right judgment in the things of God ? Have they a just con- 
ception of salvation by faith ? And has God given them 
any degree of utterance ? Do they speak justly, readily, 
clearly ? 

"3. Have they fruit? Are any truly convinced of sin, 
and converted to God, by their preaching? 

"As long as these three marks concur in any, we believe 
lie is called of God to preach." 

•The probation of the preachers was at first one year; but 
was afterward extended to four. The following Minute of 
1745 shows that Mr. Charles Wesley was never considered 
as coordinate with his brother in the government of the 
societies : 

" Should not my brother follow me step by step, and Mr. 
Meriton (another clergyman) him ? 

"A. As far as possible." 

What Mr. Wesley was next to write, was a matter on which 
he asked the advice of the Conference for several years. A 
little ,stock of medicines, to be dispensed to the poor, was 
ordered to be provided for London, Bristol, and Newcastle. 
It is not generally known that Mr. Wesley pursued a course 
of regular medical study whilst at Oxford. Preachers were 


cautioned against giving out long hymns; and were exhorted 
to choose the tunes, that so they might be suitable to the 
hymn. Copies of the Minutes of the Conference were to be 
written out, and given to each member pres-ent.* When the 
number of preachers increased, printing was adopted. In 
1749, it seems to have been proposed that the societies every- 
where should be considered one, of which the London society 
should be the mother church. This, however, came to no- 
thing. The societies, indeed, were one; but the centre of 
union was first Mr. Wesley himself, then the Conference of 
preachers. In the same year all chapels were directed to be 
built after the model of that of Rotherham ; and the number 
of circuits, each very extensive, had increased to twenty-two. 
Regular funds for the support of the preachers, and for aid- 
ing worn-out preachers, began now to be established. A 
regular settlement of the chapels upon trustees had been en- 
joined in 1749 ; and in 1765, a person was appointed to be 
gent through England to survey the deeds, and supply want- 
ing trustees. All chapel windows were to be sashed : no 
"tub pulpits" were to be allowed; and men and women 
were everywhere to sit apart. The societies are warned 
against "little oaths," such as " my life," "my honor," etc., 
and against " compliments," and unmeaning words. In gene- 
ral, many are reproved for talking too much, and reading too 
little. In 1776, all octagon chapels are directed to be built 
like that at Yarm ; and all square ones like that at Scarbor- 
ough. No Chinese paling was to be set up before any 
chapel ; and the people were forbidden to crowd into the 
preachers' houses, as though they were coffee-houses. No 
leaders' meeting was to be held without the presence of a 
preacher; and the spirit of debating at all meetings was to 
be strictly guarded against. If bankrupts did not pay their 
debts when they were able, they were to be excluded the so- 

* Perhaps not more than one or two manuscript copies of tlie com- 
plete Minutes of the Conferences from 1741 to 1717 are in existence. 
That which lies before me, and from which extracts have been made 
in the preceding pages, wants two or throe of the first pages of the 
Minutes of 1744. It was not written by Mr. Wesley, but is a copy 
corrected by his own hand in different places. This is mentioned, ,13 
several of the extracts will be new even to some of the senior 


ciety. Sluts were to be kept out of the preachers' houses; 
and cleanliness was held .to be next to godliness. 

Thus, to a number of little things, among many greater 
and weightier matters, the active mind, the taste, and the 
orderly habits, of the founder of Methodism applied itself. 
Every thing was, however, kind and bland in his manner of 
injunction ; and when he was disappointed as to the exact ob- 
servance of his regulations, his displeasure was admirably 
proportioned to the weight of the case. No man generally 
knew better how to estimate the .relative importance of things, 
and to give each its proper place and rank; although it would 
be to deny to him the infirmity of human nature, to suppose 
that this rule of proportion was always observed. If little 
things were by him sometimes made great, this praise, how- 
ever, he had without abatement, that he never made great 
things little. 

The notices of the deaths of the preachers, year by year, 
in the early Minutes, ■all bear the impress of the brevity and 
point of Mr. Wesley's style. The first time that the regular 
question, "What preachers have died this year?" appears, 
is in the Minutes of 1777: A few sketches of character 
from this laconic obituary, in different years, will illustrate 
his manner of keeping these annual records : 

" Thomas Hosking : a young man, just entering on the 
work ; zealous, active, and of an unblamable behavior. And 
Richard Burk : a man of faith and patience, made perfect 
through sufferings; one who joined the wisdom and calm- 
ness of age with the simplicity of childhood." 

" Richard Boardman : a pious, good-natured, sensible man, 
greatly beloved of all that knew him. He. was one of the 
first .two that freely offered themselves to the service of our 
brethren in America. He died of an apoplectic fit; and 
preached the night before his death. It seems he might 
have been eminently useful, but good is the will of the 

" Robert Swindells had been with us above forty years. 
He was an Israelite indeed. In all those years I never knew 
him to speak a word which he did not mean; and he always 
spoke the truth in love : I believe no one ever heard him 
speak an unkind word:- He went through exquisite pain (by 


the stone) for many years ; but he was not weary. He was 

'Patient in bearing ill and doing well.' 

One thiog he had almost peculiar to himself: he had no ene- 
my ! So remarkably was that word fulfilled, ' Blessed are the 
merciful; for they shall obtain mercy/ 

" James Barry was for many years a faithful laborer in our 
Lord's vineyard. And as he labored much, so he suffered 
much ; but with unwearied patience. In his death he suffered 
nothing, stealing quietly away in a kind of lethargy. 

"Thomas Payne was a bold soldier of Jesus Christ. His 
temper was uncommonly vehement; but before he went hence, 
all that vehemence was gone, and the lion was become a 
Iamb. He went away in the full triumph of faith, praising 
God with his latest breath. 

" Robert Naylor, a zealous, active young man, was caught 
away by a fever in the strength of his years. But it was in a 
good hour; for he returned to Him whom his soul loved, in 
the full assurance of faith. 

"A fall from his horse, which was at first thought of little 
consequence, occasioned the death of John Livermore; a 
plain, honest man, much devoted to God, and determined to 
live and die in the best of services." 

"John Prickard : a man thoroughly devoted to God, and 
an eminent pattern of holiness. And Jacob Iiowell : a faith- 
ful old soldier, fairly worn out in his Master's service. " 

" Thomas Mitchell : an old soldier of Jesus Christ." 

" John Fletcher : [Vicar of Madeley :] a pattern of all holi- 
ness, scarce to be paralleled in a century. And J Peacock : 
young in years, but old in grace; a pattern of all holiness, 
full of faith, and love, and zeal for God. • 

"Jeremiah Eobertshaw, who was a good soldier of Jesus 
Christ, fairly worn out in his Master's service. He was a 
pattern of patience for many years, laboring under sharp and 
almost continual pain, of meekness and gentleness to all men, 
and of simplicity and godly siucerity. 

"Joshua Keighley, who was a young man deeply devoted 
to God, and greatly beloved by all that knew him. He was 

'About the marriage-state to prove ; 
But death had swifter wings than love.' 


" Charles Wesley, who, after spending fourscore years with 
much sorrow and pain, quietly retired into Abraham's bosom. 
He had no disease; but, after a gradual decay of some 

' The weary wheels of life stood still at last.' 

His least praise was, his talent for poetry; although Dr. 
"Watts did not scruple to say, that that single poem, 'Wrest- 
ling Jacob,' was worth all the verses he himself had written. 

" John Mayly, worn out in the service of his Master. He 
suffered much in his last illness, and died triumphant in the 

Thus, neither his brother Charles, nor Mr. Fletcher, had a 
longer eulogy than any. other preacher; so great was Mr. 
Wesley's love of brevity. 

The " care of the churches" now had come upon him ; and 
was increasing; he had a responsibility to man, as well as to 
God, for the right management of a people whom his labors, 
and those of his coadjutors, had formed into a body distinct 
from the national Church, and, indeed, as to all ecclesiastical 
control, separate from it, although, in part, the members were 
attendants on her services. He was most anxious that this 
people should be raised to the highest state of religious and 
moral excellence; that they should be exemplary in all the 
relations of life, civil and domestic; wise in the Scriptures; 
well read in useful books ; self-denying in their conduct, 
almost to severity; and liberal in their charities, in order to 
which they were enjoined to abstain from all unnecessary in- 
dulgences, and to be plain and frugal in dress. They were 
expected to rise early to a religious service at five o'clock, and 
to attend some evening service, if possible, several times in 
the week; and, beside their own Sabbath meetings, to be 
punctual in observing the services of the Church. They were 
to add to all this the most zealous efforts to'do good to the 
bodies and souls of those who were around them, and to per- 
severe in all these things with an ardor and an unweariedness 
equal to his own. With these great objects s*o strongly im- 
pressed upon his mind, that he should feel compelled to 
superintend every part of the system he had put into opera- 
tion, and attend to every thing great or little which he con- 
ceived to retard or accelerate its motion, was the natural 


consequence, and became with him matter of imperative con- 
science. A nobler object man could not propose to himself, 
than thus to spread the truth and example Of a living and 
practical Christianity through the land, and to revive the 
spirit of piety in a fallen Church, and among a neglected 
people; and he had sufficient proofs from the wonderful suc- 
cess which had followed, success too of the most unequivocal 
kind, because the hearts of "multitudes had 'been turned to 
the Lord," that he was in the path of duty, and that the 
work was of God ; but the standard which he set up in his 
own mind and in his rules, both for his preachers and people, 
was so high, that, in the midst of all those refreshing joys 
which the review of the work often brought, feelings of dis- 
appointment, and something like vexation, occasionally break 
forth in the Minutes of his Conferences. On the preachers in 
their circuits, an activity, an occupation of time, and an 
attention to various duties had been enjoined, similar to his 
own; but the regulations under which they were placed 
were often minute, and in minor matters they were often fail- 
ing, even when in other respects they most faithfully and 
laboriously fulfilled their ministry. Stewards, leaders, and 
trustees come in also occasionally for their share of remon- 
strance and rebuke on account of inattention ; whilst the 
societies, as being exposed to the various errors of the day, 
and to the ordinary influences of the temptations of an earthly 
state, sometimes declined, and then again revived ; in some 
places were negligent, and in others were almost every thing 
he could wish them to be, so that he could say with an apos- 
tle respecting them, " Great is my glorying/' To Mr. Wes- 
ley's frequent trials of patience were to be added the contro- 
versies, often very illiberal, in which he was engaged, and 
the constant misrepresentations and persecutions to which he 
and the societies were for many years exposed. When all 
these things are considered, and when it is also recollected 
how much*every <nan who himself works by a strict method 
is apt to be affected by the irregularities and carelessness of 
others; the full and tranquil flow of his zeal and energy, and 
the temper, at once so strict and so mild, which breathes in 
the Minutes of the Conferences, place him in a very admirable 
point of light. -Vexation and disappointment passed over his 
serene mind like the light clouds over the bright summer 



field. The principle of an entire devotedness to serve GJ-od, 
and " his generation according to the will of Grod," in hini 
never relaxed ;■ and the words of one of his own beautiful 
hymns, to which in advanced life, in a conversation with a 
friend, he once alluded, as expressing his own past and hab- 
itual experience, were in hini finely realized : — 

"Jesus, confirm my heart's desire 

To work, and speak, and think for thee ; 
Still let me guard the holy fire, 
And still stir up thy gift in me. 

" Ready for all thy perfect will, 

My acts of faith and love repeat, 
Till death thy endless mercies seal, 
And make the sacrifice complete." 



Early list of circuits — Mr. Charles Wesley in London — Earthquake 
there — Differences between Mr. Charles Wesley and the preachers 
— Remarks — Respective views of the, brothers — Mr. Wesley's mar- 
riage — Mr. Perronet — Kingswood School — Remarks — Mr. Wesley 
visits Scotland — Letters — Sickness — Mr. Whitefield's letter to him 
in anticipation of his death — Mr. Wesley's remarks on books — 
His Address to the Clergy — Remarks — Hervey's Letters. 

The doctrines and principal branches of the discipline of 
the body being generally settled, Mr. Wesley desisted from 
publishing extracts from the Minutes of the annual Con- 
ferences from 1749 to 1765. In the Minutes of the latter 
year we find for the first time a published list of the circuits, 
and of the preachers.* The circuits were then twenty-five 
in England, extending from Cornwall to Newcastle-upon- 
Tyne; in Scotland four; in Wales two; in Ireland eight; 
in all, thirty-nine The total number of the preachers, given 
up entirely to the work, and acting under Mr. Wesley's 
direction, had then risen to ninety-two. But it will be neces- 
sary to look back upon the labors of the two brothers during 
this interval. Instead, however, of tracing Mr. Wesley's 
journeys into various parts of the kingdom in detail from 

* In the manuscript copy of the first Minutes before mentioned, 
lists of circuits occasionally appear, as in 1746: — "How many cir- 
cuits fire there? Answer. — Seven. 1. London, including Surrey 
and Kent. 2. Bristol, including Somersetshire, Portland, Wiltshire, 
Oxfordshire, and Gloucestershire. 3. Cornwall. 4. Kvcshnm, in- 
cluding Shrewsbury, Leominster, Hereford, Stroud, and Wodnesbury. 
5. York, including Yorkshire, Cheshire, Lancashire, Derbyshire, 
Nottinghamshire, and Lincolnshire. 6. Newcastle. 7. Wales." 


his Journals, which present one uniform and unwearied activ- 
ity in his high calling, it will be sufficient to notice the prin- 
cipal incidents. 

Mr. Charles Wesley married in 1749, yet still continued 
his labors with but little abatement. He was at London at 
the time of the earthquake, and was preaching at the Foun- 
dry early in the morning when the second shock occurred. 
The entry in his Journal presents him in a sublime attitude, 
and may be given as an instance of what may be truly 
called the majesty of faith : " March 8th, 1750. Tbis morn- 
ing, a quarter after five, we had another shock of an earth- 
quake, far more violent than that of February 8th. I was 
just repeating my text, when it shook the Foundry so 
violently, that we all expected it to fall on our heads. A 
great cry followed from the women and children. I imme- 
diately called out, ' Therefore, we will not fear, though the 
earth be moved, and the hills be carried into the midst of 
the sea; for the Lord of hosts is with us; the God of 
Jacob is our refuge/ He filled my heart with faith, and my 
mouth with words, shaking their souls as well as their 
bodies. The earth moved westward, then eastward, then 
westward again, through all London and Westminster. It 
was a strong and jarring motion, attended with a rumbling 
noise like that of thunder. Many houses were much 
shaken, and some chimneys thrown down, but without any 
further hurt."* 

The impression produced in London by this visitation is 
thus recorded in a letter from Mr. Briggs to Mr. John Wes- 
ley : " This great city has been, for some days past, under 
terrible apprehensions of another earthquake. Yesterday, 
thousands fled out of town, it having been confidently asserted 
by a dragoon, that he had a revelation that great part of Lon- 
don, and Westminster especially, would be destroyed by an 
earthquake on the 4th instant, between twelve and one at 
night. The whole city was under direful apprehensions. 
Places of worship were crowded with frightened sinners, espe- 
cially our two chapels, and the Tabernacle, where Mr. White- 
field preached. Several of the classes came to their leaders, 
and desired that they would spend the night with them in 

* Journal. 


prayer; which was done, and God gave them a blessing. 
Indeed, all around was awful. Being not at all convinced 
of the prophet's mission, and having no call from any of my 
brethreu, I went to bed at my usual time, believing I was 
safe in the hands of Christ; and likewise, that, by doing so, 
I should be the more ready to rise to the preaching in the 
morning; which I did, praised be my kind Protector." In 
a postscript he adds, "Though crowds left the town on Wed- 
nesday night, yet crowds were left beh^pd; multitudes of 
whom, for fear of being suddenly overwhelmed, left their 
houses, and repaired to the fields, and open places in the 
city. Tower-Hill, Moorfields, but above all Hyde Park, 
were filled, the best part of the night, with men, women, and 
children lamenting. Some, with stronger imaginations than 
others, mostly women, ran crying in the streets, 'An earth- 
quake ! an earthquake !' Such distress, perhaps, is not re- 
corded to have happened before in this careless city. Mr. White- 
field preached at midnight in Hyde Park. Surely God will 
visit this city ; it will be a time of mercy to some. may I 
be found watching !"* 

So ready were these great preachers of the time to take 
advantage of every event by which they might lead men to 
God. One knows not which most to admire, Mr. White- 
field preaching at midnight in Hyde Park to a crowd of 
affrighted people, expecting the earth to swallow them up; or 
Mr. Charles Wesley, with the very ground reeling under him, 
calling out to the congregation, "Therefore will we not fear, 
though the earth be moved, and the hills be carried into the 
midst of the sea ; for the Lord of hosts is with us ; the God 
of Jacob is our refuge;" arid using this as his text. 

The detected immorality and expulsion of one of the 
preachers, James Wheatley,f led the brothers to determine 

* Whiti'lu' Life. 

f Mr. Wesley has been censured by some persons for sanctioning 
the publication of a pamphlet on the "Duties of Husbands and 
Wives," written, as they supposed, by this wretched man, and espe- 
cially for doing this after tire misconduct of the author had been 
brought to light. But the charge is without foundation. The pam- 
phlet in question was not written by James Wheatley, the preacher, 
but by William Whateley, the Puritan minister of Banbury ; a man 
of the most exemplary piety, and one of the best practical writers 


upon instituting a more strict inquiry into the life and beha- 
vior of every preacher in connection with them. Mr. Charlee 
Wesley undertook that office, as being perhaps more con- 
fident in his own discernment of character, and less influenced 
by affection to the preachers. The result was, however, 
highly creditable to them, for no irregularity of conduct was 
detected ; but as the visitation was not conducted, to say the 
least of it, in the bland manner in which it would have been 
executed by Mr. John Wesley, who was, indeed, alone 
regarded as the father of the Connection, it led, as might be 
expected, to bickerings. Many of the preachers did not 
come up to Mr. Charles Wesley's notions of attachment to 
the Church; some began to wish a little larger share in the 
government; and a few did not rise to his standard of minis- 
terial abilities, although of this he judged only by report. 
From this time a 'stronger feeling- of disunion between the 
preachers and him grew up, which ultimately led to his taking 
a much less active part in the affairs of the body, except 
to interfere occasionally with his advice, and, in still later 
years, now and then to censure the increasing irregularity 
of his brother's proceedings. The fact was, Mr. John Wes- 
ley was only carried forward by the same stream, which had 
impelled both the brothers irretrievably far beyond the line 
prescribed to regular Churchmen ; and Charles was chafing 
himself with the vain attempt to buffet back the tide, or at 
least to render it stationary. He saw, no doubt, during the 
visitation which he had lately undertaken, a growing tendency 
to separation from the Church, both among many of the 
preachers and the people, which, although it was the natural, 
nay, almost necessary, result of the circumstances in which 
they were placed, he somewhat uncandidly attributed to the 
ambition of the former; and, laying it down as a necessary 
qualification, that no preacher ought to be employed without 
giving some explicit pledge as to his purpose of adherence to 
the Church, he attempted to associate himself with his brother 
in the management, with equal power to call preachers into 

of his age, "who died in 1639. The work from which the pamphlet 
was extracted is entitled, "A Bride-Bush," and bears the date of 
1619; which was at least a hundred years before Wheatley was 


the work, aDd then to govern them. He appears laudably to 
have wished to improve their talents; but he proposed also 
greatly to restrict their number, and to subject them to 
stricter tests as to their attachment to the Establishment. 
Here began an important difference between the two brothers. 
Some impression was made upon the mind of Mr. John Wes- 
ley by his brother's letters written to him during his tour 
of inquisition, principally as they exaggerated the growing 
daDger of separation from the Church; and upon Charles's 
return to London, John was persuaded, although "with dif- 
ficulty," to sign an agreement, engaging that no preacher 
should be called into the work except by both of them con- 
jointly, nor any readmitted but with mutual consent. The 
intention of Charles was evidently to obtain a controlling 
power over his brother's proceedings ; but there was one great 
rule to which Mr. John Wesley was more steadily faithful. 
This was to carry on and extend that which he knew to be 
the work of God, without regarding probable future conse- 
quences of separation from the Church after his death;* 
which was, in fact, the principle on which they had agreed at 
the first Conference of 1744,*}* and to which Charles stood 
pledged as fully as himself. It seems, therefore, that when 
Mr. John Wesley more fully discovered his brother's inten- 
tion to restrict the number of preachers, under the plea 
of employing only men of superior abilities; and more espe- 
cially after all that had passed between Charles and them 
during the inquisitorial visitation just named had been re- 
ported to him, he felt little disposed to assent to his having 
co'authority with himself in the management of the Connec- 
tion ; and Charles withdrawing more from public life, the 
government remained with John still more exclusively than 
before. This acquisition of entire authority, as it has been 
called, has been referred to by one of Mr. Wesley's biogra- 
phers as a proof of his ambition, and his inability to bear a 
rival. The affection of the brothers itself affords a strong 
presumption against the existence of any such jealousy be- 

* "Church or no Church," he observes in one of his letters to 
Charles, "we must attend to the work of saving souls." And in 
another, "I neither set it up, nor pull it down; but let you and I 
build the city of God." 

t See pages 126, 127. 


tween them; and besides, we find no previous instance of a 
single struggle for authority. But the fact was, that John 
always led the way, as sole director, with Charles as a confi- 
dential adviser; and they long acted together in this relation 
as with one soul. In the present case it was Charles only 
who grasped at a power which he had not previously pos- 
sessed; and 'this was for a moment yielded, though hesita- 
tingly, upon an 'ex parte statement, and under views not fully 
manifested. When, however, those were disclosed, John re- 
coiled ; and his brother, by a partial secession from the work, 
left the whole care of it upon his hands. Mr. Charles Wes- 
ley had, indeed, some time before this, rather hastily inter- 
posed to prevent the marriage of his brother with a very 
pious and respectable woman, Mrs. Grace, Murray, to whom 
he was attached, and that, probably, under the influence of a 
little family pride, as she was not in an elevated rank of life;* 

* Mr. Charles Wesley and Mr. Whitefield got the lady hastily mar- 
ried to Mr. Bennett, one of the preachers, whilst his brother was at 
a distance, probably not being himself aware, any mor-e than she, 
of the strength of his attachment. The following extract from one 
of Mr. Wesley's unpublished letters shows, however, that he deeply 
felt it: "The sons of Zeruiah were too strong for me. The whole 
world fought against me, but, above all, my own familiar friend. 
Then was the word fulfilled, ' Son of man, behold, I take from thee 
the desire of thine eyes at a stroke ; yet shalt not thou lament, 
neither shall thy tears run down.' The fatal, irrecoverable stroke 
was struck on Thursday last. Yesterday I saw my friend, (that was,) 
and him to whom she is sacrificed. ' But why should a living man 
complain, a man for the punishment" of his sins?'" The following 
passages, from a letter of the venerable Vicar of Shoreham to Mr. 
Charles, intimate how much he sympathized with Mr. John Wes- 
ley on the occasion, and how anxious he was to prevent a breach 
between the brothers, which this certainly unbrotherly act, the only 
one into which Charles seems to have been betrayed, was near 
producing. The letter is dated, Shoreham, 1749: — "Yours came 
this day to hand. I leave you to guess how such news must affect 
a person whose very soul is one with yours, and our friend. Let 
me conjure you to soothe his sorrows. Pour nothing but oil and 
wine into his wounds. Indulge no views, no designs, but what tend 
to the honor of God, the promoting the kingdom of his dear Son, 
and the healing of our wounded friend. How would the Philistines 
rejoice could they hear that Saul and Jonathan were in danger from 
their own swords !" 

I have seen an explanation of Mr. Charles Wesley's conduct in 


and this affair, in which there appears to have been some- 
what of treachery, although, no doubt, well intended, had, 
for the first time, interrupted their harmony. But it is not 
at all likely that any feeling of resentment remained in the 
mind of John ; and, indeed, the commission of visitation, 
with which Charles had been invested, was a sufficient proof 
that confidence had been restored. The true reason of the 
difference was, that the one wished to contract the work, from 
fear of the probable consequence of separation from the 
Church ; the other pursued his course of enlarging and ex- 
tending it, resolving to prevent separation to the best of his 
power, but leaving that issue in higher hands. Still, how- 
ever, the affection of the brothers remained unimpaired. 

In the year 1751, as Mr. Wesley was still resolved to marry, 
believing that his usefulness would be thereby promoted, he 
took to wife Mrs. Vizelle, a widow lady of independent for- 
tune. She was a woman of a cultivated understanding, as her 
remaining letters testify; and that she appeared to Mr. Wes- 
ley to possess every other qualification which promised to in- 
crease both his usefulness and happiness, we may conclude 

this affair, by the late Miss Wesley ; but as the matter occurred 
before her birth, I have much doubt as to her perfect knowledge of 
the circumstances, so that I shall not fully state it. She lays the 
fault chiefly on the lady's want of explicitness ; states that she 
had formed a previous, but concealed, attachment to Mr. Bennett; 
and that Mr. Charles having discovered this, he hastened the mar- 

Whatever the ostensible reason might be, it was no doubt eagerly 
seized by Mr. Charles Wesley as an occasion of breaking off a match, 
■which he appears some time before to have interfered with, influ- 
enced, it is most probable, by the consideration of Mrs. Murray's in- 
ferior rank. From this feeling Mr. John Wesley was much more 
exempt, as the following anecdote, found in one of Miss Wesley's 
letters, indicates in a way very creditable to his amiable temper: 
" My brother Charles had an attachment, in early youth, to an ami- 
able girl of inferior birth ; this was much opposed by my mother 
and her family, who mentioned it with concern to my uncle. Find- 
ing from my father that this was the chief objection, my uncle only 
replied, 'Then there is no family blood? I hear the girl is good, 
hut of no family.' ' Nor fortune either,' said my mother. He made 
no reply ; but sent my brother a sum of money as a wedding-present; 
and I believe sincerely regretted that he was ultimately crossed in his 


from his having made choice of her as his companion. We 
must suppose, also, that as he never intended to relax his 
labors, and adopt a more settled mode of life, this matter, also, 
was fully understood and agreed to before marriage. But, 
whatever good qualities Mrs. AVesley might appear to have, 
they were at length wholly swallowed up in the tierce passion 
of jealousy. For some time she travelled with him; but, 
becoming weary of this, and not being able to bind him down 
to a more domestic life, this passion increased. The violence 
of her temper broke out, also, against Mr. Charles Wesley, 
and his wife. This arose from very trifling circumstances, 
magnified into personal slights; and various unpleasant scenes 
are mentioned in Mr. Charles Wesley's unpublished letters, 
and described with a sprightliness which, whilst it shows that 
he was unconscious of having given her any just cause of 
offence, equally indicates the absence of sympathy. Perhaps 
this had been worn out by the long continuance of her caustic 
attacks upon him and his family, both by word and by letter. 
Certainly Mr. Charles Wesley must have felt her to be an 
annoying correspondent, if we may judge from some of her 
letters, still preserved, and in which, singular as it may ap- 
pear, she zealously contends for her husband's superiority, and 
is indignant that he should be wearing himself out with ex- 
cessive labor, whilst Charles was remaining at home in ease. 
Dr. Southey has candidly and justly stated the matter be- 
tween her and her persecuted husband : 

" Had Mrs. Wesley been capable of understanding her hus- 
band's character, she could not possibly have been jealous; 
but the spirit of jealousy possessed her, and drove her to the 
most unwarrantable actions. It is said that she frequently 
travelled a hundred miles for the purpose of watching, from 
a window, who was in the carriage with him, when he entered 
a town. She searched his pockets, opened his letters, put his 
letters and papers into the hands of his enemies, in hope's 
that they mighty be made use of to blast his character, and 
sometimes laid violent hands upon him, and tore his hair. She 
frequently left his house, and, upon his earnest entreaties, 
returned again ; till, after having thus disquieted twenty years 
of his life, as far as it was possible for any domestic vexations 
to disquiet a man whose life was passed in locomotion, she 
seized on part of his Journals, and many other papers, which 


were never restored, and departed, leaving word that she 
never iutended to return. He simply states 'the fact in his 
Journal, saying that he knew not what the cause had been; 
and he briefly adds, Non earn reliqui, non dimisi, non revo- 
cabo ; ' I did not forsake her, I did not dismiss her, I will 
cot recall her.' "* 

The worst part of Mrs. Wesley's conduct, and which only 
the supposition of a degree of insanity, excited by jealousy, 
can palliate, was, that she interpolated several letters which 
sh'3 had intercepted, so as to make them bear a bad construc- 
tion j and as Mr. Wesley had always maintained a large cor- 
respondence with all classes of persons, and, among others, 
with pious females, in some of whose letters there were strong 
expressions of Christian affection, she availed herself of this 
means of defaming him. Some of these she read to different 
persons in private, and especially to Mr. Wesley's opponents 
and enemies, adding extempore passages in the same tone 
of voice, but taking care not to allow the letters themselves to 
be read by the auditors; and in one or two instances she 
published interpolated or forged letters in the public prints. 
How her husband conducted himself amidst these vexations, 
the following passages, in a letter from Miss Wesley to a 
frieud, written a little before her death, will show. They 
are at once important, as explanatory of the kind of annoy- 
ance to which this unhappy marriage subjected her uncle, 
and as containing an anecdote strongly illustrative of his cha- 
racter : 

"I think it was in the year 1775 my uncle promised to 
take me with him to Canterbury and Dover. About this time 
Mrs. Wesley had obtained some letters which she used to the 
most injurious purposes, misinterpreting gpiritual expressions, 
and interpolating words. These she read to some Calvinists, 
and they were to be sent to the Morning Post. A Calvinist 
gentleman, who esteemed my father and uncle, came to the 
former, and told him that, for the sake of religion, the pub- 
lication should be stopped, and Mr. John Wesley be allowed 
to answer for himself. As Mrs. Wesley had read, but did 
not show, the letters to him, he had some doubts of their 
authenticity ; and though they were addressed to Mr. John 

* Southey's Life. 


Wesley, they might be forgeries ; at any rate, he ought not 
to leave town at such a juncture, but clear the matter satisfac- 

" My dear father, to whom the reputation of my uncle was 
far clearer than his own, immediately saw the importance of 
refutation ; and set off to the Foundry to induce him to post- 
pone his journey, while I, in my own mind, was lamenting 
such a disappointment, having anticipated it with all the im- 
patience natural to my years. Never shall I forget the man- 
ner in which my father accosted my mother, on his return 
home. 'My brother,' says he, 'is indeed an extraordinary 
man. I placed before him the importance of the character 
of a minister: the evil consequences which might result from 
his indifference to it : the cause of religion : stumbling-blocks 
cast in the way of the weak; and urged him, by every rela- 
tive and public motive, to answer for himself, and stop the 
publication. His reply was, ' Brother, when I devoted to God 
my ease, my time, my life, did I except my reputation '( No. 
Tell Sally I will take her to Canterbury to-morrow.' 

"I ought to add that the letters in question were* satisfac- 
torily proved to be mutilated, and no scandal resulted from 
his trust in God." 

Some of these letters, mutilated, interpolated, or forged by 
this unhappy woman, have got into different hands, and are 
still preserved. In the papers of the Wesley family, recently 
collected, there are, however, sufficient materials for a full 
explanation of the whole case in detail ; but as Mr. Wesley 
himself spared it, no one will, I presume, ever further disturb 
this unpleasant affair, unless some publication on the part 
of an enemy, for the sake of gain, or to gratify a party feeling, 
should render it necessary to defend the character of this holy 
and unsuspecting man.* 

* The Mlowing passage in a letter from Mr. Perronet to Mr. Charles 
Wesley, dated Shoreham, November 3, 1752, shows that Mr. Wesley's 
matrimonial afflictions must have commenced a very short time after 
marriage : " I am truly concerned that matters are in- so melancholy 
a situation. I think the unhappy lady is most to be pitied, though 
the gentleman's case is mournful enough. Their sufferings proceed 
from widely different causes. His are the visible chastisements of a 
loving Father; hers, the immediate effects of an angry, bitter spirit; 
and, indeed, it is a sad consideration that, after so many months have 


A school at Kinsrswood, near Bristol, for the children of 
the poor, had been long; built; but that neighborhood was 
also fixed upon by Mr. Wesley for an institution, in which 
the sons of the preachers, and those of the richer Methodists, 
should receive at once the best education, and the most effi- 
cient religious training;. It was opened in June, 1748; and 
he published, soon after, a " Short Account" of the institu- 
tion, with the plan of education adopted, particularly for those 
who were to remain so long in it as to go through a course of 
academical learning; and adds, "Whoever carefully goes 
through this course will be a better scholar than nine in ten 
of the graduates at Oxford and Cambridge." In this great 
and good design he grasped at too much; and the school 
came, in time, to be confined to the sous of the preachers, 
and ceased, as at first, to receive boarders. Indeed, from the 
increase of the preachers' families, the school was rapidly 
filled, and required enlargement at different times; and, 
finally, it was necessary to establish a second school at Wood- 

elapsed, the same warmth and bitterness should remain." This truly 
venerable and holy man died in 1785, in the ninety-second year of 
his age. Two days before his death, his granddaughter, Miss Briggs, 
who attended him day and night, read to him the last three chapters 
of Isaiah. He then desired her to go into the garden, to take a little 
fresh air. Upon her return, she found him in an ecstasy, with the 
tears running down his cheeks, from a deep and lively sense of the 
glorious things which she had just been reading to him ; and which, 
he believed, would shortly be fulfilled in a "still more glorious sense 
than heretofore. He continued unspeakably happy all that day. On 
Sunday, his happiness seemed even to increase, till he retired to rest. 
Miss lb'iggs then went into the room to see if any tiling was wanting ; 
and, as she stood at the feet of the bed, he smiled, and said, "God 
bless thee, my dear child, and aU that belongs to thee ! Yea. he will 
hless thee!" This he earnestly repeated till she left the room. 
When she went in the next morning, his happy spirit had returned to 

Mr. Perronet, like those great and good men, Messrs. Grimshaw 
and Fletcher, continued steadily attached to Mr. Wesley, and to the 
Methodists. He received the preachers joyfully, fitted up a room in 
the parsonage-house for their use, and attended their ministry him- 
self at every opportunity. His house was one of the regular places 
of the Kent Circuit, and so continued to the day of his death. 
All his family were members of the society, and two of his sons 


house-Grove, in Yorkshire. The circumstance of the preach- 
ers being so much from home, and removing every one or two 
years from their circuits, rendered an institution of this kind 
imperative ; and, as it necessarily grew out of the system of 
itiuerancy, it was cheerfully and liberally, though often inade- 
quately, supported by private subscriptions, and a public 
annual collection throughout all the congregations. The most 
gratifying moral results have followed ; and a useful and reli- 
gious education has been secured to the sons of the preachers, 
many of whom, especially of late years, having afforded unde- 
niable proofs of genuine conversion, and of a Divine call to 
public labors in the Church of Christ, have been admitted 
into the ministry, and are among its highest ornaments, or its 
brightest hopes. It is, however, to be regretted that the 
original plan of Mr. Wesley, to found an institution for the 
Connection at large, which should unite the advantages of a 
school and a college, has not been resumed in later and more 
favorable times. Various circumstances, at that early period, 
militated against the success of this excellent project, which 
have gradually disappeared; and if, in that infant state of 
the cause, Mr. Wesley wisely thought that Methodism should 
provide for all its wants, religious and educational, within 
itself, much more incumbent is it to do so now. Many of 
the sons of our friends, for want of such a provision, have 
been placed in schools where their religious principles have 
been neglected or -perverted; and too often have been taught 
to ridicule, or to be ashamed of, the religious profession of 
their fathers. 

In 1753, Mr. Wesley visited Scotland a second time, and 
preached at Glasgow to large congregations. He had gone 
there on the invitation of that excellent man, Dr. Gillies, 
minister of the College Kirk, who, a few days after he left, 
wrote to him as follows : "The singing of hymns here meets 
with greater opposition than 1 expected. Serious people are 
much divided. Those of better understanding and education 
are silent; but many others are so prejudiced, especially at 
the singing publicly, that they speak openly against it, and 
look upon me as led to do a very wrong or sinful thing. I 
beg your advice, whether to answer them only by continuing 
in the practice of the thing, with such as have freedom to 
join, looking to the Lord for a blessing upon his own ordi- 


nance; or, if I should publish a sheet of arguments from 
reason, and Scripture, and the example of the godly. Your 
experience of the most effectual way of dealing with people's 
prejudices, makes your advice on this head of the greater 

" I bless the Lord for the benefit and comfort of your 
acquaintance, for your important assistance in my Historical 
Collections, and for your edifying conversation and sermons 
in this place. May our gracious Grod prosper you wherever 
you are. my dear Sir, pray for your brother, that I may 
be employed in doing something for the advancement of His 
glory, who has done so much for me, and who is my only 

This prejudice in favor of their own doggerel version of the 
Psalms of David generally remains among the Scotch to this 
day; and even in the Wesleyan societies raised ,up there, 
great opposition was at first made to the use of hymns. The 
Historical Collections of Dr. Gillies, mentioned in his letter, 
do justice to that revival of religion in this country of which 
Methodism was the instrument, and give many valuable 
accounts of similar revivals, and special effusions of the Holy 
Spirit upon the churches of Christ, in different ages. 

The following extracts from two of Mr. Wesley's letters, 
written about this time r show how meekly this admirable man 
could take reproof; and with how patient a temper he could 
deal with peevish and complaining men. 

"You give," says he, "five reasons why the Rev. Mr. 

P will come no more amongst us: 1. 'Because we 

despise the ministers of the Church of England.' This I 
flatly deny. I am answering letters this very post which 
bitterly blame me for just the contrary. 2. ' Because so 
much backbiting and evil-speaking is suffered amongst our 
people.' It is not suffered : all possible means are used, both 
to prevent and remove it. 3. 'Because I, who have written 
so much against hoarding up money, have put out seven hun- 
dred pounds to interest.' I never put sixpence out to interest 
since I was born; nor had I ever one hundred pounds toge- 
ther, my own, since I came into the world. 4. ' Because our 
lay preachers have told many stories of my brother and me.' 
If they did, I am sorry for them ; when I hear the particu- 
lars I can answer, and perhaps make those ashamed who 

208 THE LIFE or 

believed them. • 5. l Because we did not help a friend in dis- 
tress.' We did help him as far as we were able. ' But we 

might have made his case known to Mr. G , Lady H / 

etc. So we did, more than once; but we could not pull 
money from them, whether they would or no. Therefore, 
these reasons are of no weight. You conclude with prayino- 
that God would remove pride and malice from amongst us. 
Of pride I have too much ; of malice I have none : however, 
the prayer is good, and I thank you for it." 

The other letter from which I shall give an extract was 
written, apparently, to a gentleman of some rank and influ- 
ence : " I do not recollect, for I kept no copy of my last, that 
I charged you with want of humility or meekness. Doubt- 
less these may be found in the most splendid palaces. But 
did they ever move a man to build a splendid palace ? Upon 
what motive you did this, I know not ; but you are to answer 
it to God, not to me. 

" If your soul is as much alive to God, if your thirst after 
pardon and holiness is as strong, if you are as dead to the 
desire of the eye and the pride of life, as you were six or 
seven years ago, I rejoice : if not, I pray God you may; and 
then you will know how to value a real friend. 

" With regard to myself, you do well to warn me against 
1 popularity, a thirst of power and applause ; against envy, 
producing a seeming contempt for the conveniences or gran- 
deur of this life; against an affected humility; against sparing 
from myself to give to others, from no other motive than 
ostentation.' I am not conscious to myself that this is my 
case. However, the warning is always friendly; and it is 
always seasonable, considering how deceitful my heart is, and 
how many the enemies that surround me. What follows I do 
not understand: -You behold, me in the ditch, wherein you 
helped, though innocently, to cast me, and with a Levitical 
pity pass by on the other side. He and you, sir, have not 
any merit, though Providence should permit all these suffer- 
ings to work together for my good.' I do not comprehend 
one line of this, and therefore cannot plead either guilty or 
not guilty. I presume they are some that are dependent on 
me who, you say, 'keep not the commandments of God; 
who show a repugnance to serve and obey ; who are as full 
of pride and arrogance as of filth and nastiness ; who do not 


pay lawful debts, nor comply with civil obligations; wbo 
make the waiting on the offices of religion a plea for sloth and 
idleness ; who, after I had strongly recommended them, did 
not perform their moral duty, but increased the number of 
those incumbrances which they forced on you, against your 
will.' To this I can only say, 1. I know not whom you mean; 
I am not certain that I can so much as guess at one of them. 
2. Whoever they are, had they followed my instructions, 
they would have acted in a quite different manner. 3. If you 
w\ll tell me them by name, I will renounce all fellowship with 

la the autumn of 1753 Mr. Wesley was threatened with 
consumption, brought on* by repeated attacks of cold. By 
the advice of Dr. Fothers;ill he retired to Lewisham ; and 
here, not knowing how it might please God to dispose of him, 
and wishing " to prevent vile panegyric" in case of death, he 
wrote his epitaph as follows : 

$ere Itetl) 








God be merciful to me an unprofitable servant ! 

He ordered that this, if any, inscription should be placed on his tombstone. 

During Mr. Wesley's illness, Mr. Whitefield wrote to him 
in a strain which shows the fulness of affection which existed 
between those great and good men, notwithstanding their dif- 
ferences of opinion : 

"Bristol, Dec. 3, 1753. 

" If seeing you so weak when leaving London distressed 
me, the news and prospect of your approaching dissolution 


hath quite weighed me down. I pity myself and the Church, 
but not you. A radiant throne awaits you, and ere long; you 
will enter into your Master's joy. Yonder he stands with a 
massy crown, ready to put it on your head, amidst an admiring 
throng of saints and angels. But I, poor I, that have been 
waiting for my dissolution these nineteen years, must be left 
behind to grovel here below! Well, this is my comfort: it 
cannot be long ere the chariots will be sent even for worth- 
less me. If prayers can detain them, even you, Rev. and 
very dear sir, shall not leave us yet; but if the decree is 
gone forth that you must now fall asleep in Jesus, may he 
kiss your soul away, and give you to die in the embraces of 
triumphant love ! If in the land of the dying, I hope to pay 
my last respects to you next week. If not, Rev. and very 
dear sir, f — a — r — e — w — e — 11. Ego sequa?-, etsi noil pas- 
sibus cequis.* My heart is too big, tears trickle down too 
fast, and you are, I fear, too weak for me to enlarge. Under- 
neath you may there be Christ's everlasting arms ! I com- 
mend you to his never-failing mercy, and am, 

" Rev. and very dear sir, 
" Your most affectionate, sympathizing, and afflicted 

younger brother in the gospel of our common Lord, 

" G-. Whitefield." 

From Lewisham he removed to the Hot Wells, near Bris- 
tol; and, ever intent upon improving time, began his Notes 
on the New Testament. For some time after this, he appears 
to have remained in an invalid state. During his retirement 
at Paddington he read a work which made a forcible attack 
upon his prejudices as a Churchman ; and soon afterwards, 
another, which still further shook the deference he had once 
been disposed to pay to ecclesiastical antiquity. 

"In my hours of walking, I read Dr. Calamy's Abridg- 
ment of Mr. Baxter's Life. What a scene is opened there ! 
In spite of all my prejudices of education, I could not but 
see that the poor Nonconformists had been used without 
either justice or mercy; and that many of the Protestant 
bishops of King Charles had neither more religion nor human- 
ity than the Popish bishops of Queen Mary. 

* "I shall follow, though not with equal steps." 


"I read Mr. Baxter's History of tile Councils. It is 
utterly astonishing, and would be wholly incredible, but that 
his vouchers are beyond all exception. What a company of 
execrable wretches have they been, (one cannot justly give 
them a milder title,) who have, almost in every age since St. 
Cyprian, taken upon them to govern the Church ! How has 
one Council been perpetually cursing another* and delivering 
all over to Satan, whether predecessors and contemporaries, who 
did not implicitly receive their determinations, though gene- 
rally trifling, sometimes false, and frequently unintelligible, 
or self-contradictory ! Surely Mohammedanism was let loose 
to reform the Christians ! I know not but Constantinople has 
gained by the change." 

During Mr. Wesley's illness, Mr. Charles Wesley went 
forth to visit the societies, and to supply his brother's place. 

In 1755, at the Conference held in Leeds, a subject which 
had been frequently stirring itself was formally discussed : — 

"The point on which we desired all the preachers to speak 
their minds at large, was, whether we ought to separate from 
the Church. Whatever was advanced on one side or the 
other was seriously and calmly considered ; and qxx the third 
day we were fully agreed in that general conclusion, that, 
whether it was lawful or not, it was no ways expedient." 

Part of the preachers were, without restraint, permitted to 
speak in favor of a measure which in former Conferences 
would not have been listened to in the shape of discussion ; 
and the conclusion was that the question of the lawfulness 
of separation was evaded, and the whole matter was reduced 
to " expediency." Of this Conference we have no Minutes; 
but where was Mr. Charles Wesley ?* Mr. Charles Perronet 
and some others, for whom Mr. Wesley had great respect, 
were at this time urging him to make full provision for the 
spiritual wants of his people, as being in fact in a state of real 
and hopeless separation from the Church; and he did some 
yoars afterwards so far relax, as to allow of preaching in 

* Three years after, Mr. Wesley published twelve reasons against 
Beparation ; all, however, of a prudential kind. To these Mr. 
Charles Wesley added his separate testimony; but as to himself, he 
adds that he thought it not lawful. Here, then, was another differ- 
ence in the views of the brothers. 


Church hours under certain circumstances, as, 1. When the 
minister was wicked; or held pernicious doctrine. 2. When 
the churches would not contain the population of a town ; or 
where the church was distant. In that case he prescribed 
reading the Psalms and Lessons, and part of the Liturgy. And 
for this purpose, as well as for the use of the American socie- 
ties, he published his Abridgment of the Common Prayer, 
under the title of the '" Sunday Service of the Methodists." 

In 1756 he printed an Address to the Clergy, plain, affec- 
tionate, and powerful ; breathing at once the spirit of an 
apostle, and the feeling of a brother. Happy if that call had 
been heard ! He might perhaps be influenced in this by a 
still lingering hope of a revival of the spirit of zeal and piety 
among the ministers of the Established Church; in which 
case that separation of his people from the Church, which he 
began to foresee as otherwise inevitable, he thought, might be 
prevented; and this he had undoubtedly much at heart. 
Tinder the same view it probably was that iu 1761 he ad- 
dressed a circular to all the serious clergy whom he knew, 
inviting them to a closer cooperation in promoting the influ- 
ence of religion in the laud, without any sacrifice of opinion, 
and being still at liberty, as to outward order, to remain 
" quite regular, or quite irregular, or partly regular, and partly 
irregular." Of the thirty-four clergymen addressed, only three 
returned any answer. This seems to have surprised both him 
and some of his biographers. The reason is, however, very 
obvious : Mr. Wesley did not propose -to abandon his plan and 
his preachers, or to get the latter ordained and settled in 
curacies, as proposed a few years before by Mr. Walker of 
Truro ; and the matter had now obviously gone too far for the 
clergy to attach themselves to Methodism. They saw, with 
perhaps clearer eyes than Mr. Wesley's, that the Methodists 
could not now be embodied in the Church ; and that for them 
to cooperate direetly with him, would only be to partake of 
his reproach, and to put difficulties in their own way, to which 
they had not the same call. A few clergymen, and but a few, 
still continued to give him, with fulness of heart, the right 
hand of fellowship, and to cooperate iu some degree with him. 
Backward he could not go; but the forward career of still 
more extended usefulness was before him. From this time 


he gave up all hope of a formal connection with even the 
pious clergy. "They are," he observes, ''a rope of sand, 
and such they will continue;" and he therefore set himself 
with deep seriousness to perpetuate the union of his preachers. 
At the Conference of 1769 he read a paper, the object of 
which was to bind the preachers together by a closer tie, and 
to provide for the continuance of their union after his death. 
They were to engage solemnly to devote themselves to God, 
to preach the old Methodist doctrines, and to maintain the 
whole Methodist discipline ; after Mr. Wesley's death they 
were to repair to London, and those who chose to act in con- 
cert were to draw up articles of agreement ; whilst such as 
did not so agree were to be dismissed "in the most friendly 
way possible." They were then to choose a committee by 
vote, each of the members of which was to be moderator in 
his turn, and this committee was to enjoy Mr. Wesley's power 
of proposing preachers to be admitted or excluded, of appoint- 
ing their stations for the ensuing year, and of fixing the time 
of the next Conference. This appears to have been the first 
sketch of an ecclesiastical constitution for the body; and it 
mainly consisted in the entire delegation of the power which 
Mr. Wesley had always exercised, to a committee of preachers 
to be chosen by the rest when assembled in Conference. The 
form of government he thus proposed was therefore a species 
of Episcopacy to be exercised by a committee of three, five, 
or seven, as the case might be. Another and a more eligible 
provision was subsequently made ; but this sufficiently shows 
that Mr. Wesley had given up all hope of union with the 
Church ; and his efforts were henceforth directed merely to 
prevent any thing like formal separation, and the open renun- 
ciation of her communion, during his own life, by allowing 
his preachers to administer the sacraments. 

About this time much prejudice was excited against Mr. 
^Yesley in Scotland, by the republication of Hervey's Eleven 
Letters. He had three times visited this country ; and, 
preaching only upon the fundamental truths of Christianity, 
had been received with great affection. The societies had 
increased, and several of . his preachers were stationed in 
different towns. Lady Frances Gardiner, the widow of Colo- 
nel Gardiner, and other persons, eminent for piety and rank, 


attended the "Methodist ministry; but the publication of this 
wretched work caused a temporary odium. Hervey, who had 
been one of the little band at Oxford, became a Oalvinist; 
and as his notions grew more rigid with age, so his former 
feelings of gratitude and friendship to Mr. Wesley were 
blunted. He had also fallen into the hands of Cudworth, a 
decided Antinomian, who " put in and out" of the Letters 
" what he pleased." They were not, however, published 
until Hervey's death, and agaiust his dying injunction. It 
is just to so excellent a man to record this fact; but the 
work was published in England, and republished, with a vio- 
lent preface by Dr. Erskine, in Scotland ; and among the 
Calvinists it produced the effect of inspiring great horror of 
Mr. Wesley as a most pestilent heretic, whom it was doing 
G-od service to abuse without measure or modesty. The feel- 
ings of Mr. Charles Wesley, at this treatment of his brother, 
may be gathered from an answer he returned, upon being 
requested to write Hervey's epitaph : 


" O'erreached, impelled by a sly Gnostic's art, 
To stab his father, guide, and faithful friend, 
Would pious Hervey act the accuser's part ? 
And could a life like his in malice end ? 


No : By redeeming love the snare is broke : 
In death his rash ingratitude he blames ; 

Desires and wills the evil to revoke, 

And dooms th' unfinished libel to the flames. 

"Who, then, for filthy gain belayed his trust, 
And showed a kinsman's fault in open light ? 
Let him adorn the monumental bust, 

Th' encomium fair in brass or marble write : 

"Or if they need a nobler trophy raise, 
As long as Theron and Aspasio live, 
Let Madan or Romaine record his praise : 
Enough that Wesley's brother can forgive!"* 

* Mr. Charles Wesley, however, afterwards wrote and published 
some verses upon Mr. Hervey's death, in which the kind recollections 
of old friendship are embodied, and the anticipations of a happy 


The unfavorable impression made by Hervey's Letters, sur- 
charged by Cudworth's Autinomian venom, was, however, 
quickly effaced from all but the bigots; and with them, judg- 
ing from Moncrief's Life of Erskine, it remains to this day. 
In his future visits to Scotland, Mr. Wesley was received 
with marks of the highest respect; and at Perth he had the 
freedom of the city handsomely conferred upon, him. 

meeting in heaven are sweetly expressed. The following are the 
concluding stanzas: 

" Fatper, to us vouchsafe the grace 

Which brought our friend victorious through : 
Let us his shiuing footsteps trace, 
. Let us his steadfast faith pursue : 
Follow this follower of the Lamb, 
And conquer all through Jesus' name. 

" Free from the law of sin and death, 

Free from tlfe Antinomian leaven, 
He led his Master's life beneath; 

And, laboring for the rest of heaven, 
By active love and watchful prayer, 
He showed his heart already there. 

"0 might we all, like him, belipve, 

And keep the faith, and win the prize I 
Father, pi-epare and then receive 

Our hallowed spirits to the skies, 
To chant, with all our friends above, 
Thy glorious, everlasting love." 



Methodism in America — Revivals of religion — Remarks — Mr. Wes- 
ley's labors — Notices of books from his Journals — Minutes of the 
Conference of 1770 — Remarks — Mr. Shirley's Circular — Mr. Wes- 
ley's "Declaration" — Controversy respecting the Minutes — Re- 
marks — Increase of the societies — Projects for the management of 
the Connection after Mr. Wesley's death. 

Methodism having begun to make some progress in 
America, in consequence of the emigration of some of the 
members of the society from England and Ireland,* Mr. Wes- 
ley inquired of the preachers at the Conference of 1769, 
whether any of them would embark in that service. Messrs. 
Boardrnan and Pilmoor, two excellent men, of good gifts, 
volunteered their services, and were sent to take the charge of 
the societies. From this time the work spread with great 
rapidity ; more than twenty preachers had devoted themselves 
to it previously to the war of independence ; and societies 
were raised up in Maryland, Virginia, New-York, and Penn- 
sylvania. ■{■ During the war they still prosecuted their labors; 
though, as several of them took the side of the mother 
country, they were exposed to danger.J Others, with more 

[* Philip Embury, who organized the first permanent society in New- 
York, in 1766, and Robert Strawbridge, who formed the first in 
Frederick county, Maryland, in the same year, were both from Ire- 
land.— T. 0. S.] 

[f To which might be added New Jersey, Delaware, and North 
Carolina. The Minutes of 1776 report 683 members in North Caro- 
lina ; and three preachers were sent that year to the "Carolina" 
Circuit.— T. 0. S.] 

[J These were English preachers ; and they had to return to Eng- 
land in consequence of their "loyalty." It does not appear that a 
single American Methodist preacher "took the side of the mother 
country." The Methodists, as abody, werestaunch patriots. — T. O. S.] 


discretion, held on their way ill silence, speaking only of the 
things of God. The warm loyalty of Mr. Wesley led him to 
publish a pamphlet on the subject of the quarrel, entitled, 
"A Calm Address to the American Colonies;" but the copies 
which were shipped for America were laid hold of by a 
friend, who suppressed them ; so that the work remained un- 
known in the colonies until a considerable time afterward. 
This was probably a fortunate incident for the infant cause. 
After the war had terminated, political views were of course 
laid aside, and Mr. Wesley made a provision for the govern- 
ment of his American societies, which will be subsequently 
adverted to. They became, of course, independent of British 
Methodism, but have most honorably preserved the doctrines, 
the general discipline, and, above all, the spirit, of the body. 
Great, and even astonishing, has been their success in that 
new and rising country, to the wide-spread settlements of 
which their plan of itinerancy was admirably adapted. The 
Methodists are become, as to numbers, the leading religious 
body of the Union ; and their annual increase is very great. 
In the last year it was thirty-six thousand, making a total in 
their communion of one thousand nine hundred ministers, 
and four hundred and seventy-six thousand members; having, 
as stated in a recent statistical account, published in the 
United States, upwards of two millions five hundred thousand 
of the population under their immediate influence. In the 
number of their ministers, members and congregations, the 
Baptists nearly equal the Methodists; and these two bodies, 
both itinerant in their labors, have left all the other religious 
denominations far behind.* It is also satisfactory to remark, 

[* The author obtained his figures from the Minutes of 1830. 
Those of 1855-6 report for the two branches of the Methodist Epis- 
copal Church, one million, four hundred* and twenty thousand, five 
hundred and sixty-six communicants, eleven thousand two hundred 
and eighteen local preachers, and seven thousand eight hundred and 
seventeen travelling preachers — total, nineteen thousand and thirty- 
five preachers, and thirteen bishops. If the number of Methodist 
Protestants and other Methodists, all agreeing with the old Connec- 
tion in doctrine and for the most part substantially in discipline, were 
added to the foregoing, it would swell the total to largely over a 
million and a half in the United States. It is presumed that not less 
than five millions of the population of the Union attend the ministra- 
tions of the Methodist ministry. — The Regular Baptists report eight 


that the leading preachers and members of the Methodist 
Church in the United States appear to be looking forward 
with enlarged views, and with prudent regard, to the future, 
and to ainiat the cultivation of learning in conjunction with 
piety. Several colleges have been from time to time estab- 
lished • and recently a university, for the education of the 
youth of the American Connection, has been founded.* The 
work in the United States has been distinguished by frequent 
and extraordinary revivals of religion, in which a signal effect 
has been produced upon the moral condition of large districts 
of country ; and great numbers of people have been rapidly 
brought under a concern for their salvation. In the contem- 
plation of results so vast, and in so few years, we may de- 
voutlv exclaim, "What hath God wrought!" 

The mention of what are called revivals of religion in the 
United States may properly here lead us to notice, that, in 
Great Britain also, almost every Methodist society has, at 
different times, experienced some sudden and extraordinary 
increase of members, the result of what has been believed to 
be, and that not without good reason, a special effusion of Di- 
vine influence upon the minds of men. Sometimes these 
effects have attended the preaching of eminently energetic 

hundred and sixty-nine thousand four hundred and sixty-two mem- 
bers," and six thousand nine hundred and thirty-five ministers. If 
the number of Anti-Mission and various heterodox Baptist sects 
were added, it would swell the total to more than a million members, 
and ten thousand ministers — who, however, are not " itinerant in their 
labors," except in a modified way and to a limited extent. — T. 0. S.] 
[* The author alludes to the Wesleyan University, at Middletown, 
Conn., which was not, however, founded for the education of Method- 
ist youth exclusively : like other American institutions of learning, 
its halls are open to all classes, those of openly immoral habits, of 
course, being excluded. The students in Methodist seminaries are 
subjected to no religious test or proselyting influence. The Wesleyan 
University has furnished ten presidents and thirty-six professors of 
colleges; thirty-five academies and classical schools are at this time 
supplied with principals from its alumni, and one hundred -and forty 
of them are teachers, thirty-five barristers, one hundred and seventy- 
nine clergymen, one hundred and thirty being members of Methodist 
Conferences. The M. E. Church, North and South, at present numbers 
its universities and colleges by the score, and other educational in- 
stitutions of a high grade by the hundred, and the number is con- 
stantly increasing. — T. 0. S.] 


preachers, but have often appeared where those stationed in 
the circuits have not been remarkably distinguished for 
energy or pathos. Sometimes they have followed the con- 
tinued and earnest prayers of the people; at others, they have 
come suddenly and unlooked for. The effects, however, have 
been, that the piety of the societies has been greatly quick- 
ened, and rendered more deep and active, and that their 
number has increased; and of the real conversion of many 
who have thus been wrought upon, often very suddenly, the 
best evidence has been afforded. To sudden conversions, as 
such, great objections have been indeed taken. For these, 
however, there is but little reason ; for if we believe the tes- 
timony of Scripture, that the Spirit is not only given to the 
disciples of Christ, after they assume that character, but in 
order to their becoming such ; that, according to the words 
of our Lord, this Spirit is sent " to convince the world of sin/' 
to the end that they may believe in Christ; and that the 
gospel, faithfully and fully proclaimed by the ministers of 
Christ, is "the power of God unto salvation to every one that 
believeth," and is made so by the accompanying influence of 
the Holy Ghost ; who shall prescribe a mode to Divine opera- 
tion ? Who, if he believes in such an influence accompany- 
ing the truth, shall presume to say that when that truth is 
proposed, the attention of the careless shall be roused only 
by a gradual and slow process*? that the heart shall not be 
brought into a state of right feeling as to eternal concerns, 
but by a reiteration of means which we think most adapted 
to produce that effect? that no influence on the mind is 
genuine and Divine, if it operates not in a prescribed manner? 
that the Holy Spirit shall not avail himself of the variety 
which exists in the mental constitutions of men, to effect his pur- 
poses of mercy by different methods? and that the operations of 
grace shall not present, as well as those of nature, that beau- 
teous variety which so much illustrates the glory of Him 
"who worketh all in all?" And, further, who shall say that 
even the peculiarities of men's natures shall not, in some in- 
stances, be set aside in the course of a Divine and secret ope- 
ration, which, touching the springs of action, and opening 
the sources of feeling, gives an intensity of energy to the 
one, and a flow to the other, more eminently indicative of 
the finger of God in a work which his own glory, and the 


humility proper to man, require should be known and acknow- 
ledged as His work alone ? Assuredly there is nothing in 
the reason of the case to fix the manner of producing such 
effects to one rule, and nothing in Scripture. Instances of 
sudden conversion occur in the New Testament in sufficient 
number to warrant us to conclude that this may be often 
the mode adopted by Divine wisdom, and especially in a 
slumbering age, to arouse attention to long-despised and 
neglected truths. The conversions of the day of Pentecost 
were sudden, and, for any thing that appears to the contrary, 
they were real ; for the persons so influenced' were thought 
worthy "to be added to the Church. " Nor was it by the 
miracle of tongues that the effect was produced. If miracles 
could have couverted them, they had witnessed greater than 
even that glorious day exhibited. The dead had been raised 
up in their sight, the earth had quaked beneath their feet, 
the sun had hid himself and made an untimely night, and 
Christ himself had arisen from a tomb sealed and watched. 
It was not by the impression of the miracle of tongues alone, 
but by that supervenient gracious influence which operated 
with the demonstrative sermon of Peter, after the miracle had 
excited the attention of his hearers, that they were " pricked 
in their hearts, and cried, Men and brethren, what shall we do V 

The only true rule of judging of professed conversion is 
its fruits. The modes of it may vary, from circumstances of 
which we are not the fit judges, and never shall be, until we 
know more of the mystic powers of mind, and of that inter- 
course which Almighty God, in his goodness, condescends to 
hold with it. 

It is granted, however, that in such cases a spurious feeling 
has been often mixed up with these genuine visitations : 
that some ardent minds, when even sincere, have not sufficiently 
respected the rules of propriety in their acts of worship : 
that some religious deception has taken place : that some 
persons have confounded susceptibility of feeling with depth 
of grace : that censoriousness and spiritual pride have dis- 
placed that humility and charity which must exist wherever 
the influence of the Spirit of God is really present; and that, 
in some cases, a real fanaticism has sprung up, as in the case 
of George Bell and his followers in London, at an early period 
of Methodism. But these are accidents : tares sown in the 


field among the good seed, which were never spared by Mr. 
Wesley or his most judicious successors. In the early 
stages of their growth, indeed, and before they assumed a 
decided character, they were careful lest, by plucking them 
up, they should root out the good seed also; but both in 
Great Britain and in America, no extravagance has ever been 
encouraged by the authorities of either society, and no im- 
portance is attached to' any thing but the genuine fruits of 

In the early part of 1770, we find Mr. Wesley, as usual, 
prosecuting his indefatigable labors in different parts of the 
kingdom, and everywhere diffusing the influence of spiritu- 
ality, and zeal, and the light of a "sound doctrine. ,; His 
Journals present a picture of unwearied exertion, £uch as was 
perhaps never before exhibited; and in themselves they form 
ample volumes, of great interest, not only as a record of his 
astonishing and successful labors, but from their miscellane- 
ous and almost uniformly instructive character. Now he is 
seen braving the storms and tempests in his journeys, fear- 
less of the snows of winter and the heats of summer; then, 
with a deep susceptibility of all that is beautiful and grand in 
nature, recording the pleasures produced by a smiling land- 
scape, or by mountain scenery ;, here, turning aside to view 
some curious object of nature ; there, some splendid mansion 
of the great; showing, at the same time, in his pious and 
often elegant, though brief, reflections, with what skill he 
made all things contribute to devotion and cheerfulness. 
Again, we trace him into his proper work, preaching in 
crowded chapels, or to multitudes collected in the most public 
resorts in towns, or in the most picturesque places of their 
vicinity. Now he is seen by the side of the sick and dying, 
and then, surrounded with his societies, uttering his pastoral 
advices. An interesting and instructive letter frequently 
occurs ; then a jet of playful and good-humored wit upon his 
persecutors, or the, stupidity of his casual hearers; occasion- 
ally, in spite of the philosophers, an apparition story is given 
as he heard it, and of which his readers are left to judge; 
and often we meet with a grateful record of providential 
escapes from the falls of his horses, or from the violence of 
mobs. Notices of books also appear, which are often exceed- 
ingly just and striking; always short and characteristic; and, 


as lie read* much on his journeys, they are very frequent. A 
few of these notices, in his Journal of this year, taken without 
selection, may be given as a specimen : 

" I read, with all the attention I was master of, Mr. Hutch- 
inson's Life, and Mr. Spearman's Index to his Works. And 
I was more convinced than ever, 1. That he had not the least 
conception, much less experience, of inward religion. 2. That 
an ingenious man may prove just what he pleases, by well- 
devised scriptural etymologies ; especially if he be in the 
fashion, if he affect to read the Hebrew without vowels. 
And, 3. That his whole hypothesis, philosophical and theologi- 
cal, is unsupported by any solid proof." 

" I sat down to read and seriously consider some of the 
writings of Baron Swedenborg. I began with huge prejudice 
in his favor, knowing him to be a pious man, one of a strong 
understanding, of much learning, and one who thoroughly 
believed himself. But I could not hold out long. Any one 
of his visions puts his real character out of doubt. He is 
one of the most ingenious, lively, entertaining madmen that 
ever set pen to paper. But his waking dreams are so wild, 
so far remote both from Scripture and common sense, that one 
might as easily swallow the stories of Tom Thumb, or Jack 
the Giant-killer." 

" I met with an ingenious book, the late Lord Lyttleton's 
'Dialogues of the Dead.' A great part of it I could heartily 
subscribe to, though not to every word. I believe Madam 
Guion was in several mistakes, speculative and practical too; 
yet I would no more dare to call her, than her friend Arch- 
bishop Fenelon, 'a distracted enthusiast.' She was undoubt- 
edly awomao of very uncommon understanding, and of excel- 
lent piety. Nor was she any more 'a lunatic* than she was 
1 a heretic/ 

"An other of this lively writer's assertions is, 'Martin has 
spawned a strange_ brood of fellows, called Methodists, Mora- 
vians, Hutchinsouians, who are madder than Jack wa*s in his 
worst days.' I would ask any one who knows what o-ood- 
breeding means, Is this language for a nobleman, or for a 
porter? But let the language be as it may, is the sentiment 
just? To say nothing of the Methodists, (although some of 
them, too, are not quite out of their senses,) could his Lord- 
ship show me in England many more sensible men than Mr. 


Gambold and Mr. Okely ? And yet both of these were called 
Moravians. Or could he point out many men of stronger and 
deeper understanding than Dr. Home and Mr. William Jones? 
(if he could pardon them for believing the Trinity !) And 
yet both of these are Hutchinsoniaus. What pity is it, that 
so ingenious a man, like many others gone before him, should 
pass so peremptory a sentence, in a cause which he does not 
understand! Indeed, how could he understand it? How 
much has he read upon the question ? What sensible Method- 
ist, Moravian, or Hutchinsonian, did he ever calmly converse 
with ? What does he know of them, but from the caricatures 
drawn by Bishop Lavington, or Bishop Warburton ? And 
did he ever give himself the trouble of reading the answers 
to those warm, lively men ? Why should a good-natured and 
a thinking man thus condemn whole bodies of men by the 
lump? In this I can neither read the gentleman, the scholar, 
nor the Christian." 

" I set out for London ; and read over in the way that cele- 
brated book, Martin Luther's ' Comment on the Epistle to the 
Galatians.' I was utterly ashamed. How have I esteemed 
this book, only because I had heard it so commended by 
others! or, at best, because I had read some excellent sen- 
tences, occasionally quoted from it ! But what shall I say, now 
I am judge for myself? now I see with my own eyes ? W T hy, 
not ooly that the author makes nothing out, clears up not one 
considerable difficulty ; that he is quite shallow in his remarks 
on many passages, and muddy and confused almost on all; 
but that he is deeply tinctured with Mysticism throughout, 
and hence often dangerously wrong. To instance only in one 
or two points. How does he (almost in the words of Tauler) 
decry reason, right or wrong, as an irreconcilable enemy to the 
gospel of Christ ! Whereas, what is reason (the faculty so 
called) but the power of apprehending, judging, and discours- 
ing? which power is no more to be condemned in the gross, 
than seeing, hearing, or feeling. Again : how blasphemously 
does he speak of good works, and of the law of God ! con- 
stantly coupling the law with sin, death, hell, or the devil; 
and teaching that Christ delivers us from them all alike. 
Whereas, it can no more be proved by Scripture that Christ 
delivers us from the law of God, than that he delivers us from 
holiness or from -heaven. Here (I apprehend) is the real 


spring of the grand error of the Moravians. They follow 
Luther, for better, for worse. Hence their 'No works, no 
law, no commandment.' But who art thou that 'speakest 
evil of the law, and judgest the law V " 

" I read over, and partly transcribed, Bishop Bull's ' Har- 
monia Apostolica/ The position with which he sets out is 
this, 'that all good works, and not faith alone, are the neces- 
sarily previous condition of justification/ or the forgiveness 
of our sins. But, in the middle of the treatise, he asserts 
that faith alone is the condition of justification; 'for faith/ 
says he, 'referred to justification, means all inward and out- 
"ward good works.' In the latter end, he affirms 'that there 
are two justifications; and that only inward good works neces- 
sarily precede the former, but both inward and outward the 
latter/ " 

Mr. Wesley meant this brief but just analysis to be Bishop 
Bull's refutation ; and it is sufficient. 

" Looking for a book, in our college library, I took down, 
by mistake, the Works of Episcopius ; which opening on an 
account of the Synod of Dort, I believed it might be useful 
to read it through. But what a scene is here disclosed ! 1 
wonder not at the heavy curse of God, which so soon after 
fell on the Church and nation. What a pity it is that the 
holy Synod of Trent, and that of Dort, did not sit at the same 
time ! nearly allied as they were, not only as to the purity of 
doctrine which each of them established, but also as to the 
spirit wherewith they acted; if the latter did not exceed." 

"Being in the Bodleian library, I lit on Mr. Calvin's 
account of the case of Michael Servetus; several of whose 
letters he occasionally inserts ; wherein Servetus often declares 
in terms, ' I believe the Father is God, the Son is God, and 
the Holy Ghost is God/ Mr. Calvin, however, paints him 
such a monster as never was, an Arian, a blasphemer, and 
what not; besides strewing over him his flowers of dog, devil, 
swine, and so on, which are the usual appellations he gives 
to his opponents. But still he utterly denies his being the 
cause of Servetus's death. 'No,' says he, 'I only advised 
our magistrates, as having a right to restrain heretics by the 
sword, to seize upon and try that arch-heretic. But after 
he was condemned, I said not one word about his execu- 
tion V " 


The above may be taken as instances of his laconic reviews 

of books. 

Mr. Wesley's 'defence of the power he exercised in the 
o-overnment of the Methodist societies may also here be 
»iven; observing that it is easier, considering the circum- 
stances in which he was placed, to carp at it, than to find a 
solid answer. Few men, it is true, have had so much power; 
but, on the other hand, he could not have retained it in a 
perfectly voluntary society, had he not used it mildly and 
wisely, and with a perfectly disinterested and public spirit. 

" What is that power ? It is a power of admitting into, 
and excluding from, the societies under my care ; of choosing 
and removing stewards : of receiving or not receiving help- 
ers; of appointing them when, where, and how to help me, 
and of desiring any of them to confer with me when I see 
good. And as it was merely in obedience to the providence 
of God, and for the good of the people, that I at first accepted 
this power, whicli I never sought ; so it is on the same con- 
sideration, not for profit, honor, or pleasure, that I use it at 
this day. 

'' ' But several gentlemen are offended at your having so 
much power.' I did not seek any part of it. But when it 
was come unawares, not daring to bury that talent, I used it 
to the best of my judgment. Yet I never was fond of it. I 
always did, and do noW, bear it as my burden, the burden 
which God lays upon me ; and, therefore, I dare not lay it 

" But if you can tell me any one, or any five men, to whom 
I may transfer this burden, who can and will do just what I 
do now, I will heartily thank both them and you."* 

This year, 1770, is memorable in the history of Method- 
ism, for having given birth to a long and very ardent contro- 
versy on the doctrines of Calvinism. It took its rise from 
the publication of the Minutes of the Conference, in which it 
was determined that, in some particulars then pointed out, 
the preachers had " leaned too much to Calvinism." This is 
easily explained. Mr. Whitcfield, and Howell Harris, the 
early coadjutors of the Wesleys, became Calvinists; but the 
affection which existed among this little band was strong; 

* Wesley's Works. 


and as they all agreed in preaching, what was at that time 
most needed, the doctrine of salvation by faith, " an agree- 
ment " was made at a very early period, between the Wesleys 
and Howell Harris, to forget all peculiarities of opinion as 
much as possible in their sermons, to use, as far as they could 
with a good conscience, the same phrases in expressing the 
points on which they substantially agreed, and to avoid con- 
troversy. Such an agreement shows the liberal feeling which 
existed among the parties ; but it was not of a nature to be 
so rigidly kept as to give entire satisfaction. On these articles 
of peace, we find, therefore, endorsed, at a subsequent period, 
in the handwriting of Mr. Charles Wesley, " Vain agree- 
ment." Mr. Wesley's anxiety to maintain unity of effort as 
well as affection with Mr. Whitefield, led him also, in 1743, 
to concede to his Calvinistic views, as far as possible ; and he 
appears not to have been disposed to deny, though he says he 
could not prove it, that some persons might be uncondition- 
ally elected to eternal glory; but not to the necessary exclu- 
sion of any other from salvation. And he was then " inclined 
to believe" that there is a state attainable in this life, " from 
which a man cannot finally fall." But he was subsequently 
convinced, by the arguments of Mr. Thomas Walsh, that this 
was an error.* These considerations will account for the 
existence of what Mr. Wesley called " a leaning to Calvin- 
ism," both in himself, and among some of the preachers, and 

* Mr. Walsh was received by Mr. Wesley as a preacher in 1750, 
and died in 1759. The following is Mr. Wesley's character of him : — 
" That blessed man sometimes preached in Irish, mostly in English; 
and wherever he preached, whether in English or Irish, the word was 
sharper than a two-edged sword. So that I do not remember ever to 
have known any preacher who, in so few years as he remained upon 
earth, was an instrument of converting so many sinners from the 
error of their ways. By violent straining of his voice he contracted 
a true pulmonary consumption, which carried him off. what a man 
to be snatched away in the strength of his years ! Surely thy 'judg- 
ments are a great deep !' 

"He was so thoroughly acquainted with the Bible, that if he was 
questioned concerning any Hebrew word in the Old, or any Greek 
word in the New Testament, he would tell, after a little pause, not 
only how often one or the other occurred in the Bible, but also what 
it meant in every place. Such a master of biblical knowledge I never 
knew before, and never expect to see again." 


rendered a review of the case necessary.* Though the lead- 
ers had approached so near "the very edge of Calvinism" 
on one side, and "of Antinomianisni" also, with safety, it 
was not to be wondered at that others should overstep the 
line. Besides, circumstances had greatly changed. A strong 
tide of Antinomianisni had set in, and threatened great injury 
to practical godliness throughout the land. Dr. Southey 
attributes this to the natural tendency of Methodism ; but 
here - he shows himself only partially acquainted with the sub- 
ject. The decline of religion among many of the Dissenting 
churches had scattered the seeds of this heresy all around 
them, though not without calling forth a noble testimony 
against it from some of their ablest ministers; and when they 
began to feel the influence of the revival of piety in the last 
century, the tares sprang up with the plants of better quality. 
The Calvinism taught by Mr. Howell Harris, and Mr. White- 
field, was also perverted by many of their hearers to sanction 
the same error. Several of the evangelical clergy, likewise, 
who had no immediate connection with Mr. Wesley, were 
Calvinists of the highest grade ; and as their number increased, 
their incautious statements of the doctrines of grace and fate, 
carried beyond their own intentions, became more mischievous. 
To show, however, that Antinomianisni can graft itself upon 
other stocks besides that of the Calvinistic decrees, it was 
found also among many of the Moravians; and the Method- 
ists did not escape. Wherever, indeed, the doctrine of justi- 
fication by faith is preached, there is a danger, as St. Paul 
himself anticipated in his Epistle to the Romans, lest per- 
verse, vain, and evil minds should pervert it to licentiousness; 
heavenly as it is in authority, and pure in its influence, 
when rightly understood. In fact, there is no such exclusive 
connection between the more sober Calvinistic theories of pre- 
destination and this great error, as some have supposed. It 
is too often met with, also, among those who hold the doc- 
trine of general redemption ; though it must be acknowledged 
that, for the most part, such persons at length go over to 
predestinarian notions, as affording, at least, some collateral 

* Mr. Wesley's sermon on Imputed Righteousness is an instance of 
his anxiety to approach his Calvinistic brethren, in his modes of ex- 
pression, as far as possible ; and in this attempt he sometimes laid 
himself open to be misunderstood on both sides. 


confirmation oT the solifidian theory. That Calvinistic opin- 
ions, in their various forms, were at this time greatly revived 
and diffused, is certain. The religious excitement produced 
gave activity to theological inquiries; and speculative minds, 
especially those who had some taste for metaphysical discus- 
sions, were soon entangled in questions of predestination, 
prescience, necessity, and human freedom. The views of 
Calvin on these subjects were also held by many, who, con- 
necting them with vital and saving truths, were honored with 
great usefulness and as the Wesleyan societies were often 
involved in these discussions, and in danger of having their 
faith unsettled and their practical piety injured by those in 
whom Calvinism had begun to luxuriate into the ease and 
carelessness of Antinomian license, no subject at that period 
more urgently required attention. For this reason, Mr. 
Wesley brought it before his Conference of preachers. The 
withering effects of this delusion were also strongly pointed 
out in his sermons, and were afterwards still more powerfully 
depicted by the master-pencil of Mr. Fletcher, in those great 
works to which he now began to apply himself, in order to 
stem the torrent. Dr. Southey has fallen into the error of 
imagining that Mr. Fletcher's descriptions of the ravages of 
Antinomianism were drawn from its effects upon the Wes- 
leyan societies; but that mistake arose from his not adverting 
to the circumstance, that neither Mr. Wesley nor Mr. 
Fletcher confined their cares to these societies, but kept an 
equally watchful eye upon the state of religion in the land at 
large, and, consequently, in the Church of which they were 
ministers. The societies under Mr. Wesley's charge were, 
indeed, at no time more than very partially affected by this 
form of error. Still, income places they had suffered, and in 
all were exposed to danger; and as Mr. Wesley regarded them 
not only as a people given to him by God, to preserve from 
error, but to engage to bear a zealous and steadfast testimony 
" against the evils of the time;" in everyplace, he endea- 
vored to prepare them for their warfare, by instructing them 
fully in the questions at issue. 

The Minutes of 1770 contained, therefore, the following 
passages : 

" We said, in 1744, 'We have leaned too much toward Cal- 
vinism/ Wherein ? 


" 1. With regard to man's faithfulness. Our Lord him- 
self taught us to use the expression. And we ought never to 
be ashamed of it. We ought steadily to assert, on his au- 
thority, that if a man is not 'faithful in the unrighteous mam- 
mon." God will not give ' him the true riches/ 

" 2. With regard to 'working for life.' This also our Lord 
has expressly commanded us. 'Labor,' epyd&ode, literally, 
' work for the meat that endureth to everlasting life.' And, 
in fact, every believer, till he comes to glory, works for as well 
as from life. 

'' 3. We have received it as a maxim, that 'a man is to do 
nothing in order to justification.' Nothing can be more false. 
Whoever desires to find favor with God should * cease from 
evil, and learn to do well/ Whoever repents should do ' works 
meet for repentance/ And if this is not in order to find 
favor, what does he do them for ? 

" Review the whole affair. 

" 1. Who of us is now accepted of God? 

" He that now believes in Christ, with a loving and obe- 
dient heart. 

" 2. But' who among those that never heard of Christ ? 

" He that feareth God and worketh righteousness, accord- 
ing to the light he has. 

"3. Is this the same with 'he that is sincere?' 

"Nearly, if not quite. 

"4. Is not this 'salvation by works?' 

" Not by the merit of works, but by works as a condition. 

"6. What have we then been disputing about for these 
thirty years ? 

" I am afraid, about words. 

" 7. The grand objection to one of the preceding proposi- 
tions is drawn from matter of fact. God does, in fact, justify 
those who, by their own confession, neither feared God nor 
wrought righteousness. Is this an exception to the general 
rule ? 

" It is a doubt whether God makes any exceptions at all. 
But how are we sure that the person in question never did 
fear God and work righteousness? His own saying so is not 
proof; for we know how all that are convinced of sin under- 
value themselves in every respect. 

" 8. Does not talking of a justified or a sanctified state tend 


to mislead men ? almost naturally leading them to trust in 
what was done in one moment? Whereas we are every hour 
and every moment pleasing or displeasing to Glod, ' according 
to our works ;' according to the whole of our inward tempers, 
and our outward behavior." 

That these were passages calculated to awaken suspicion, 
and that they gave the appearance of inconsistency to Mr. 
Wesley's opinions, and indicated a tendency to run to one 
extreme, in order to avoid another — an error which Mr. 
Wesley more generally avoided than most men — cannot be 
denied. They, however, when fairly examined, expressed 
nothing but what is found in substance in the doctrinal con- 
versations at the Conferences from 1744 to 1747 ; but the 
sentiments were put in a stronger form, and were made to 
bear directly against the Antinomian opinions of the day. 
To " man's faithfulness" nothing surely could be reasonably 
objected ; it is enjoined upon believers in the whole gospel, 
and might have been known by the objectors to have been 
always held by Mr. Wesley, but so as necessarily to imply a 
constant dependence upon the influence of the Holy Spirit. 
That the rewards of eternity are also to be distributed in 
higher or lower degrees according to the obedient works of 
believers, yet still on a principle of grace, is a doctrine held 
by divines of almost every class, and is confirmed by many 
passages of Scripture. To the Antinomian notion, that a man 
is to do nothing in order to justification, Mr. Wesley opposes 
the same sentiment which he held in 1744, that previously to 
justification men must repent, and, if there be opportunity, 
do works meet for repentance ; and when he asks, " If they 
do them not in order to justification, what do they do them 
for ?" these words are far enough from intimating that such 
works are meritorious, although they are capable of being mis- 
understood. Repentance is indeed a condition of justifica- 
tion, as well as faith, but indirectly and remotely : " Repent 
ye, and believe the gospel ;" and seeing that Mr. Wesley, so 
expressly in the same page, shuts out the merit of works, no 
one could be justly offended with this statement (except as 
far as the phrase is concerned) who did not embrace some 
obvious form of practical error. 

The doctrine of the acceptance of such heathens as "fear 
God and work righteousness/' might be offensive to those who 


shut out all heathens, as such, from the mercies of God — a 
tenet, however, which is not necessarily connected with Cal- 
vinism ; and it ought not to have been objected'to by others, 
unless Mr. Wesley had stated, as some of his opponents un- 
derstood him to do, that a " heathen might be saved without 
a Saviour." Xo such thought was ever entertained by him, 
as Mr. Fletcher observes in his defence ; for he held that 
whenever a heathen is accepted, it is merely through the 
merits of Christ, although it is in connection with his "fearing 
God, and working righteousness." " ' But bow comes he to 
see that God is to be feared, and that righteousness is his 
delight?' Because a beam of our Sun of Righteousness 
shiues in his darkness. All is therefore of grace ; the light, 
the works of righteousness done by that light, and acceptance 
in consequence of them."* 

But when the Minutes went on to state that this shows 
that salvation is by works, as a "condition, though not by the 
merit of works," the highest point of heresy was supposed to 
be reached. Yet from this charge, though it derived some 
color from a paradoxical mode of expression not to be com- 
mended, Mr. Fletcher brings off his friend unhurt : 

" Our Church expresses herself more fully on this head in 
the Homily on Salvation, to which the article refers. ' St. 
Paul/ says she, ' declares nothing' (necessary) ' on the behalf 
of man concerning his justification, but only a true and lively 
faith; and yet' (N. B.) ' that faith does not shut out repent- 
ance, hope, love,' (of desire when we are coming, love of de- 
light when we are come,) "dread, and the fear of God, to be 
joined with it in every man that is justified; but it shutteth 
them out from the- office of justifying; so that they be all 
present together in him that is justified, yet they justify not 
all together.' This is agreeable to St. Peter's doctrine, main- 
tained by Mr. Wesley. Only faith in Christ for Christians, 
and faith in the light of their dispensation for heathens, is 
necessary in order to acceptance. But though faith only jus- 
tifies, yet it is never alone; for repentance, hope, love of desire, 
and the fear of God, necessarily accompany this faith, if it 
be living. Our Church, therefore, is not at all against works 

* Fletcher's Works. 


proceeding from or accompanying faith in all its stages. 
She grants that, whether faith seeks or finds its object, 
whether it longs for or embraces it, it is still a lively, active, 
and working grace. She is only against the vain conceit 
that works have any hand in meriting justification, or pur- 
chasing salvation, which is what Mr. Wesley likewise strongly 

"If any still urge, 'I do not love the word condition;' I 
reply, It is no wonder; since thousands so hate the thing, 
that they even' choose to go to hell, rather than perform it. 
But let an old worthy divine, approved by all but Crisp's 
disciples, tell you what we mean by condition : 'An ante- 
sedent condition,' says Mr. Flavel, in his ' Discourse of 
Errors,' ' signifies no more than an act of ours, which, though 
it be neither perfect in any degree, nor in the least meri- 
torious of the benefit conferred, nor performed in our own 
natural strength, is yet, according to the constitution of the 
30venant, required of us, in order to the blessings consequent 
thereupon, by virtue of the promise ; and, consequently, 
benefits and mercies granted in this order are and must be 
suspended by the donor, till it be performed/ Such a con- 
dition we affirm faith to be, with all that faith necessarily 

The greatest stone of stumbling was, however, the remarks 
:>n merit : 

"As to merit itself, of which we have been so dreadfully 
afraid : We are rewarded ' according to our works,' yea, 
; because of our works.' How does this differ from, ' for the 
sake of our works?' And how differs this from, secundum 
merita ojoerum, ' as our works deserve V Can you split this 
hair? I doubt I cannot." 

The outcry of " dreadful heresy" raised against him, par- 
ticularly on this article, was the more uncandid, because by 
sxplaining the phrase secundum merita operum, to mean, 
! as our works deserve,' it was clear, especially taking the pas- 
sage in connection with what he had previously stated, that 
he understood merit in that loose, and not perhaps always cor- 
rect sense in which it had often been used by several of the 

* Fletcher's Works. 


ancient Fathers : and also that he was not speaking of our 
present justification, but of our final reward. But here Mr. 
Fletcher shall again be heard : 

" If Mr. Wesley meant that we are saved by the merit 
of works, and not entirely by that of Christ, you might 
exclaim against his proposition as erroneous; and I would 
echo back your exclamation. But as he flatly denies it in 
those words, ' not by the merit of works/ and has constantly 
asserted the contrary for above thirty years, we cannot, with- 
out monstrous injustice, fix that sense upon the word merit in 
this paragraph. 

" Divesting himself of bigotry and party spirit, he gene- 
rously acknowledges truth, even when it is held forth by his 
adversaries. An instance of candor worthy of our imitation ! 
He sees that God offers and gives his children, here on earth, 
particular rewards for particular instances of obedience. He 
knows that when a man is saved meritoriously by Christ, and 
conditionally by (or, if you please, upon the terms of) the 
work. of faith, the patience of hope, and the labor of love, he 
shall particularly be rewarded in heaven for his works. And 
he observes, that the Scriptures steadily maintain, we are re- 
compensed according to our works, yea, because of our works. 

"The former of these assertions is plain from the parable 
of the talents, and from these words of our Lord : ' The Son 
of man shall come in the glory of his Father, and reward 
every man according to his works:' (Matt. xvi. 27:) unbe- 
lievers, according to the various degrees of demerit belonging 
to their evil works; (for some of them shall comparatively 
'be beaten with few stripes;') and believers, according to the 
various degrees of excellence found in their good works; 'for 
as one star differeth from another star in glory, so also is the 
resurrection of the' righteous ' dead.' 

" If we detach from the word merit the idea of ' obligation 
on God's part to bestow any thing upon creatures, who have a 
thousand times forfeited their comforts and existence' — if we 
take it in the sense we fix to it in an hundred cases; for 
instance, this : 'A master may reward his scholars according 
to the merit of their exercises, or he may not ; for the merit 
of the best exercise can never bind him to bestow a premium 
for it, unless he has promised it of his own accord' — if we 
take, [ say, the word merit in this simple sense, it may be 


joined to the word good works, and bear an evangelical 


" To be convinced of it, candid reader, consider, with Mr. 
Wesley, that ' God accepts and rewards no work but so far 
as it proceeds from his own grace through the Beloved.' 
Forget not that Christ's Spirit is the savor of each believer's 
salt, and that he puts excellence into the good works of his 
people, or else they could not be good. Remember, he is as 
much concerned in the good tempers, words, and actions of 
his living members, as a tree is concerned in the sap, leaves, 
and fruit of the branches it bears. (John xv. 5.) Consider, I 
say, all this, and tell us, whether it can reflect dishonor upon 
Christ and his grace to affirm, that as his personal merit — 
the merit of his holy life and painful death — ' opens the 
kingdom of heaven to all believers/ so the merit of those 
works which he enables his members to do, will determine the 
peculiar degrees of glory graciously allotted to each of them."* 

Mr. Fletcher came forward to defend his venerable friend, 
on account of the great uproar which the Calvinistic party 
had raised against him on the publication of these Minutes, 
The Countess of Huntingdon had taken serious alarm and 
offence ; and the Rev. Walter Shirley, her brother and chap- 
lain, had written a Circular Letter to all the serious clergy, 
and several others, inviting them to go in a body to the en- 
suing Conference, and " insist upon a formal recantation of 
the said Minutes, and. in case of a refusal, to sign and pub- 
lish their protest against them." Mr. Shirley and a few 
others accordingly attended the Bristol Conference, where, 
says Mr. Wesley, " we had more preachers than usual, in 
consequence of Mr. Shirley's Circular Letter. At ten on 
Thursday morning he came, with nine or ten of his friends. 
We conversed freely for about two hours; and I believe they 
were satisfied that we were not such ' dreadful heretics' as 
they imagined, but were tolerably sound in the faith." 

The meeting was creditable to each party. Mr. Wesley 
acknowledged that the Minutes were " not sufficiently 
guarded." This must be felt by all; they were out of his 
usual manner of expressing himself, and he had said the 
same truths often in a clearer, and safer, and even stronger 

* Fletcher's Works. 


manner. He certainly did not mean to alter his previous 
opinions, or formally to adopt other terms in which to express 
them ; and therefore to employ new modes of speaking, 
though Tor a temporary purpose, was not without danger, al- 
though they were capable of an innocent explanation. Even 
Mr. Fletcher confesses that the Minutes wore "a new aspect;" 
and that at first they appeared to him " unguarded, if not 
erroneous." Mr. Wesley showed his candor in admitting the 
former; and, to prevent all future misconstruction, he and 
the Conference issued the following "Declaration,"* to which 
was appended a Note from Mr. Shirley, acknowledging his 
mistake as to the meaning in the Minutes : 

"Bristol, August 9, 1771. 

" Whereas the doctrinal points in the Minutes of a Con- 
ference, held in London, August 7, 1770, have been under- 
stood to favor ■ justification by works ;' now the Ptev. John 
Wesley and others, assembled in Conference, do declare, that 
we had no such meaning; and that we abhor the doctrine 
of l justification by works/ as a most perilous and abominable 
doctrine. And as the said Minutes are not sufficiently 
guarded in the way they are expressed, we hereby solemnly 
declare, in the sight of God, that we have no trust or con- 
fidence but in the alone merits of our Lord and Saviour 
Jesus Christ for justification or salvation, either in life, death, 
or the day of judgment. And though no one is a real Chris- 
tian believer (and consequently cannot be saved) who doeth 
not good works, where there is time and opportunity, yet our 
works have no part in meriting or purchasing our justification, 
from first to last, cither in whole or in part. 

" Signed by the He v. Mr. Wesley and fifty-three preachers."")* 

[* This "Declaration," in Mr. Wesley's handwriting, was kindly 
remitted to the Conference, at its session in Bristol, August, 1850, by 
the author of the Life and Times of the Countess of Huntingdon. — 
T. O. S.J 

f This affair is capable of more illustration than it has received 
from Mr. Wesley's biographers hitherto. Mr. Shirley's Circular Let- 
ter was naturally resented by Mr. Wesley, as being published before 
any explanations respecting the Minutes had been asked from him, 
their author; and also from its assuming that Mr. S., and the clergy 
who might obey his summons, had the right to come into the Confer- 
ence, and to demand a recantation. Mr. Shirley, therefore, soon 



* " Mr. Shirley's Christian respects wait on Mr. Wesley 
The Declaration agreed to in Conference the 8th of. August, 

found that he must approach in a more brotherly manner, or that Mr. 
Wesley and the Conference would have no intercourse with him. This 
led Lady Huntingdon and Mr. Shirley to address explanatory letters 
to Mr. Wesley. "As the method of proceeding, as well as the terms 
in which we had delivered ourselves," says Mr. Shirley, " was objected 
to by many as by no means proper, and in submission to the precept, 
'Give no offence to Jew or Gentile, or to the Church of God,' Lady 
Huntingdon and I wrote the following letters, which were delivered 
to Mr. Wesley the evening before the Conference met." Lady Hun- 
tingdon says, "As you and your friends, and many others, have ob- 
jected to the mode of the application to you in Conference, as an 
arbitrary way of proceeding, we wish to retract what a more delibe- 
rate consideration might have prevented," etc. Mr. Shirley's letter 
acknowledges "that the Circular was too hastily drawn up, and 
improperly expressed ; and, therefore, for the offensive expressions in 
it we desire we may be hereby understood to make every suitable 
submission to you." On this explanation, Mr. Shirley and his friends 
were invited by Mr. Wesley to coine to the Conference on the third 
day of its sitting. Mr. Shirley's published narrative thus proceeds : 
"To say the truth, I was pleased that the invitation came from Mr. 
Wesley, without any application made on our parts, that there might 
not be left the least room for censuring our proceedings as violent. 
On that day therefore I went thither, accompanied with the Rev. Mr. 
Glascot, the Rev. Mr. Owen, (two ministers officiating in Lady Hun- 
tingdon's chapels,) John Lloyd, Esq., of Bath; Mr. James Ireland, 
merchant of Bristol ; Mr. Winter, and two students belonging to Lady 
Huntingdon's college. 

"I shall only give you a brief detail of what passed, and rather the 
substance of what was spoken, than the exact words ; omitting like- 
wise many things of no great weight or consequence. 

"After Mr. Wesley had prayed, I desired to know whether Lady 
Huntingdon's letter and mine to Mr. Wesley had been read to the Con- 
ference. Being answered in the negative, I begged leave to read the 
copies of them ; which was granted. I then said that I hoped the 
submission made was satisfactory to the gentlemen of the Conference. 
This was admitted ; but then it was urged, that as the offence given 
by the Circular Letter had been very public, so ought the letter of 
submission. I therefore readily consented to the publication of it, 
and have now fulfilled my promise. Mr. Wesley then stood up : the 
purport of his speech was a sketch of his ministry from his first set- 
ting out to the present time ; with a view (as I understood) to prove 
that he had ever maintained justification by faith, and that there was 
nothing in the Minutes contrary thereunto. He complained of ill- 
treatment from many persons, that he apprehended had been under 


1771, has convinced Mr. Shirley he had mistaken the mean- 
ing of the doctrinal points in the Minutes of the. Conference 
held in London, August, 1, 1770; and he hereby wishes to 

obligations to him ; and said that the present opposition was not to the 
Minutes, but to himself personally. In answer, I assured them, in 
the most solemn manner, that, with Vespect to myself, my opposition 
was not to Mr. Wesley or any particular person, but to the doctrines 
themselves ; and they were pleased thus far to give me credit. I 
then proceeded to speak to the point : informed them of the great and 
general offence the Minutes had given ; that I had numerous protests 
and testimonies against them sent me from Scotland, and from vari- 
ous parts of these kingdoms ; that it must seem very extraordinary 
indeed, if so many men of sense and learning should be mistaken, 
and that there was nothing really offensive in the plain, natural im- 
port of the Minutes ; that I believed they themselves (whatever mean- 
ing they might have intended) would allow that the more obvious 
meaning was reprehensible ; and, therefore, I recommended to them, 
nay, I begged and entreated for the Lord's sake, that they would go 
as far as they could with a good conscience, in giving the world satis- 
faction. I said I hoped they would not take offence, (for I did not 
mean to give it,) at my proposing to them a Declaration which I had 
drawn up, wishing that something at least analogous to it might be 
agreed to. I then took the liberty to read it ; and Mr. Wesley, after 
he had made some (not very material) alterations- in it, readily con- 
sented to sign It ; in which he was followed by fifty-three of the 
preachers in connection with him ; there being only one or two that 
were against it. 

"Thus was this important matter settled. But one of the preachers 
(namely, Mr. Thomas Olivers) kept us a long time in debate; strenu- 
ously opposed the Declaration; and to the last would not consent to 
sign it. He maintained that our second justification (that is, at the 
day of judgment) is by works; and he saw very -clearly that for one 
that holds that tenet, solemnly ' to declare in the sight of God that he 
has no trust or confidence but in the alone merits of our Lord and 
(saviour Jesus Christ, for justification or salvation, either in life, 
death, or the day of judgment,' would he acting neither a consistent 
nor an upright part; for all the suhtilties of metaphysical distinction 
can never reconcile tenets so diametrically opposite as these. But, 
blessed be God, Mr. Wesley, and fifty-three of his preachers, do not 
ngree with Mi-. Olivers in this material article ; for it appears from 
their subscribing the Declaration, that they do not maintain a sccoud 
justification by works. 

"After the Declaration had been agreed to, it was required of me. 
on my part, that I would make some public acknowledgment that I 
had mistaken the meaning of the Minutes. Here I hesitated a little; 
for though I was desirous to do every thing (consistently with truth 
and a good conscience) for the establishment of peace and Christian 


testify the full satisfaction he has in the said Declaration, and 
his hearty concurrence and agreement with the same. 

" Mr. Wesley is at full liberty to make what use he pleases 

of this. 

"August 10th, 1771." 

Mr. Fletcher had entitled his defence of Mr. Wesley 
"The First Check to Antinomianism ;" but he did not con- 
tent himself with evangelizing the apparently legal Minutes, 
and defending the doctrinal consistency and orthodoxy of Mr. 
Wesley. He incidentally discussed various other points of 
the quinquarticular controversy ; and he, as well as Mr. Wes- 
ley, was quickly assailed by a number of replies, not couched 

fellowship, yet I was very unwilling to give any thing under my hand 
that might seem to countenance the Minutes in their obvious sense. 
But then, when I was asked by one of the preachers whether I did 
not believe Mr. Wesley to be an honest man, I was distressed, on the 
other hand, lest, by refusing what was desired, I should seem to infer 
a doubt to Mr. Wesley's disadvantage. Having confidence, therefore, 
in Mr. Wesley's integrity, who had declared he had no such meaning 
in the Minutes as was favorable to justification by works ; and con- 
sidering that every man is the best judge of his own meaning, and 
has a right, so far, to our credit, and that, though nothing else could, 
yet the Declaration did, convince me they had some other meaning 
than what appeared — I say, (these things considered,) I promised 
them satisfaction in this particular ; and, .a few days afterwards, 
sent Mr. Wesley the following message, with which he was very well 
pleased : 

[Then follows Mr. Shirley's Note, as given above.] 
"Thus far all was well. The foundation was secured. And, with 
respect to lesser matters of difference, we might well bear with one 
another; and if either party should see occasion to oppose the other's 
peculiar opinion, it might be done without vehemence, and without 
using any reproachful terms. The whole was conducted with great 
decency on all sides. We concluded with prayer, and with the warm- 
est indications of mutual peace and love. For my own part, believe 
me, I was perfectly sincere ; and thought this one of the happiest and 
most honorable days of my life." 

The whole conduct of Mr. Shirley, in this affair, affords a pleasing 
contrast to that of the Hills, Toplady, and others, who soon rushed 
hot and reckless into the controversy. Mr. Shirley, it is true, com- 
plains that, after this adjustment, Mr. Fletcher should have so se- 
verely attacked him in his five letters ; but he appears never to have 
departed from the meekness of a Christian, and the manners of a gen- 


rn the most courteous style. Mr. Fletcher's skill and ad- 
mirable, temper so fully fitted him to conduct the dispute 
which had arisen, that Sir. Wesley left the contest chiefly to 
him, and calmly pursued his labors ; and the whole issued in 
a series of publications, from the pen of the Vicar of Made- 
ley, which, as a whole, can scarcely be too highly praised or 
valued.* While the language endures, they will effectually 
operate as checks to Antinomianism in every subtle form 
which it may assume^ and present the pure and beautiful 
system of evangelical truth, as well guarded on the other 
hand against Pelagian self-sufficiency. The Rev. Augustus 
Toplady, Mr. (afterward Sir Richard) Hill, and his brother, 
the Rev. Rowland Hill, with the Rev. John Berridge, were 
his principal antagonists ; but his learning, his acuteness, his 
brilliant talent at illustrating an argument, and, above all, the 
hallowed spirit in which he conducted the controversy, gave 
him a mighty superiority over his opponents ; and, although 
there will be a difference of opinion, according to the systems 
which different readers have adopted, "as to the side on which 
the victory of argument remains, there can be none as to 
which bore away the prize of temper. Amidst the scurrilities 
and vulgar abuse of Mr. Toplady, otherwise an able writer 
and a man of learning, and the coarse virulence or buffoonery 
of the Hills and Berridge,j" it is refreshing to remark, in the 

* It ought to be observed that Mr. Fletcher's writings are not to be 
considered, in every particular, as expressing the views of Mr. Wes- 
ley, and the body of Methodists; and that, though greatly admired 
among us, they are not reckoned among the standards of our doc- 

f The titles of several of the pieces written by Toplady and others, 
such as, "An old Fox tarred and feathered," "The Serpent and the 
Fox," "Pope John," etc., are sufficient evidences of the temper and 
manners of this band of controversialists. In what the Rev. Row- 
land Hill calls "Some gentle Strictures" on a sermon by Mr. Wesley, 
preached on laying the foundation-stone of the City Road chapel, Mr. 
Wesley is subjected to certain not very gentle objurgations, which it 
Would be too sickening a task to copy or to road. The Gospel Maga- 
zine, so called, was equally unmeasured in its abuse, and as vulgar; 
but, to do justice to all parties, the Calvinists even of that day dis- 
approved of this publication, and it was given up. Even Mr. How- 
land Hill appears to have incurred the displeasure of some of his 
brethren; for, in a second edition of his "Gentle Strictures," he ex- 
plains hinwelf — awkwardly enough, certainly — that when he called 

240 THE LIEE Of 

writings of the "saintly Fletcher," so fine a union of strength 
and meekness ; an edge so keen, and yet so smooth ; and a 
heart kept in such perfect charity with his assailants, and so 
intent upon establishing truth, not for victory, but for salva- 

In this dispute Mr. Wesley wrote but little, and that chiefly 
in defence of his own consistency, in reply to Mr. Hill. His 
pamphlets also are models of temper, logical and calm, but 
occasionally powerfully reproving ; much as feeling that 
he had received abuse and insult, as holding it his duty to 
bring the aggressor to a due sense of his own misdoings. 
The conclusion of his first reply to Mr. Hill is a strong illus- 
tration : 

" Having now answered the queries you proposed, suffer 
me, sir, to propose one to you ; the same which a gentleman 
of your own opinion proposed to me some years since : 'Sir, 
how is it that as soon as a man comes to the knowledge of the 
truth, it spoils his temper?' That it does so I had observed 
over and over, as well as Mr. J. had. But how can we 
account for it? Has the truth (so Mr. J. termed what many 
love to term the doctrine of free grace) a natural tendency to 
spoil the temper? to inspire pride, haughtiness, supercilious- 
ness ? to make a man ' wiser in his own eves than seven men 
that can render a reason V Does it naturally turn a man 
into a cynic, a bear, a Toplady ? Does it at once set him 
free from all the restraints of good nature, decency, and good 
manners? Cannot a man hold distinguishing grace, as it is 
called, but he must distinguish himself for passion, sourness, 
bitterness ? Must a man, as soon as he looks upon himself to 
be an absolute favorite of Heaven, look upon all that oppose 
him as Diabolians, as predestinated dogs of hell ? Truly, the 

Mr. Wesley "wretch," and "miscreant," they must remember that 
"wretch" means "an unhappy person," and "miscreant," "one 
whose belief is wrong !" We have, happily, no recent instances of 
equally unbrotherly and unchristian temper in connection with this 
controversy, except in the bitter and unsanctified spirit of Bogue and 
Bennett's History of the Dissenters. The two Doctors, however, were 
in the habit of declining the merit of the passages on Methodism in 
favor of each other ; and to which of them the honor of their author- 
ship is due, has never yet, I believe, been ascertained. "Where there 
is shame," says Dr. Johnson, "there may in time be virtue." 


melancholy instance now before us would almost induce us to 
think so. For who was of a more amiable temper than Mr. 
Hill, a few years ago ? When I first conversed with him in 
London, I thought I had seldom seen a man of fortune who 
appeared to be of a more humble, modest, gentle, friendly 
disposition. And yet this same Mr. H., when he has once 
been grounded in a knowledge of the truth, is of a temper 
as totally different from this, as light is from darkness ! He 
is now haughty, supercilious, disdaining his opponents, as 
unworthy to be set with the dogs of his flock ! He is vio- 
lent, impetuous, bitter of spirit ! in a word, the author of the 
Review ! 

" 0, sir, what a commendation is this of your doctrine ! 
Look at Mr. Hill the Arminian ! the loving, amiable, gene- 
rous, friendly man. Look at Mr. Hill the Calvinist ! Is it 
the same person ? this spiteful, morose, touchy man ? Alas, 
what has the knowledge of the truth done ! What a deplora- 
ble change has it made ! Sir, I love you still ; though 1 can- 
not esteem you, as I did once. Let me entreat you, if not 
for the honor of God, yet for the honor of your cause, avoid, 
for the time to come, all anger, all spite, all sourness and bit- 
terness, all contemptudus usage of your opponents, not infe- 
rior to you, unless in fortune. put on again bowels of 
mercies, kindness, gentleness, long-suffering; endeavoring to 
hold, even with them that differ from you in opinion, the unity 
of the Spirit in the bond of peace \" 

This controversy, painful as it was in many respects, and 
the cause of much unhallowed joy, to the profane wits of the 
day, who were not a little gratified at this exhibition of what 
they termed " spiritual gladiatorship," has been productive 
of important consequences in this country. It showed to the 
pious and moderate Calvinists how well the richest views of 
evangelical truth could be united with Arminianism ; and it 
effected, by its bold and fearless exhibition of the logical con- 
sequences of the doctrines of the decrees, much greater mode- 
ration in those who still admitted them, and gave birth to 
some softened modifications of Calvinism in the age that fol- 
lowed — an effect which has remained to this day. The dis- 
putes on these subjects have, since that time, been less fre- 
quent, and more temperate ; nor have good men so much 
lubored to depart to the greatest distance from each other, as 


to find a ground on which they could make the nearest ap- 
proaches. This has been especially the case between 'the 
Methodists and evangelical Dissenters. Of late, a Calvinism 
of a higher and sterner form has sprung up among a certain 
sect of the clergy of the Church of England ; though some 
of them, whatever their private theory may be, feel that these 
points are not fit subjects for the edification of their congre- 
gations in public discourses. Of Calvinism since the period 
of this controversy the Methodist preachers and societies have 
been in no danger; so powerful and complete was its effect 
upon them. At no Conference, since that of 1770, has it 
been necessary again to ask, "Wherein have we leaned too 
much to Calvinism V There has been, indeed, not in the 
body, but in some of its ministers occasionally, a leaning to 
what is worse than Calvinism — to a sapless, legal, and philo- 
sophizing theology. The influence of the opinions of the 
majority of the preachers has always, however, counteracted 
this; and the true balance between the extremes of each 
system, as set up in the doctrinal writings of Mr. Wesley, has 
been of late years better preserved than formerly. Those 
writings are, indeed, more read and better appreciated in the 
Connection than at some former periods ; and perhaps at the 
present time they exert a more powerful influence than they 
ever did over the theological views of both preachers and 
people. To this the admirably complete, correct, and elegant 
edition of Mr. Wesley's Works, lately put forth by the labor 
and judgment of the Rev. Thomas Jackson, will still further 
contribute. Numerous valuable pieces, on different subjects, 
which had been quite lost to the public, have been re- 
covered ; and others, but very partially known, have been 

In the midst of all these controversies and cares, the socie- 
ties continued to spread and flourish under the influence of 
the zeal and piety of the preachers, animated by the ceaseless 
activity and regular visits of Mr. Wesley, who, though now 
upwards of seventy years of age,* seemed to possess his 

* In his seventy-second year he thus speaks of himself: " This be- 
ing my birthday, the first day of my seventy-second year, I was con- 
sidering, How is this, that I find just the same strength as I did 
thirty years ago ? that my sight is considerably better now, and my 
nerves firmer than they were then ? that I have none of the infirmi- 


natural strength unabated. His thoughts were, however, fre- 
quently turning with anxiety to some arrangement for the 
government of the Connection after his death ; and not being 
satisfied that the plan he had sketched out a few years before 
would provide for a case of-so much consequence, he directed 
his attention to Mr. Fletcher, and warmly invited him to 
come forth into the work, and to allow himself to be intro- 
duced by him to the societies and preachers as their future 
head. Earnestly as this was pressed, Mr. Fletcher could not 
be induced to undertake a task to which, in his humility, he 
thought himself inadequate. This seems to have been his 
only objection; but had he accepted the offer, the plan would 
have failed, as Mr. Fletcher was a few years afterwards called 
into another world. From Mr. Charles Wesley, who had be- 
come a family man, and had nearly given up travelling, he 
had no hope as a successor; and even then a further settle- 
ment would have been necessary, because Jie could not be 
expected long to survive his brother. Still, therefore, this 
important matter remained undetermined. At the time the 
overture was made to Mr. Fletcher, the preachers who were 
fully engaged in the work amounted to one hundred and fifty ; 
and the societies, in Great Britain and Ireland, to upwards 
of thirty-five thousand, exclusive of the regular hearers. This 
rapid and constant enlargement of the Connection heightened 
the urgency of the question of its future settlement ; and it 
is pleasing to remark that Mr. Charles Wesley at length 
entered into this feeling; and offered his suggestions. In 
spite of the little misunderstandings which had arisen, he 
maintained a strong iuterest in a work of which he had been 
so eminent an instrument; and this grew upon him in his 
latter years. Thus we have seen him springing into activity 
upon the sickness of his brother, before mentioned, and per- 
forming for him the full " work of an evangelist," by travel- 
ling in his place ; and, upon Mr. Wesley's recovery, his 

ties of old age, and have lost several I had in my youth ? The grand 
cause is the good pleasure of God, who doeth whatsoever pleaseth 
him. The chief means nre, 1. My constantly rising at four for about 
fifty years. 2. My generally preaching at five in the morning — one 
of the most healthy exercises in the world. 3. My never travelling 
less, by sea or land, than four thousand five hundred miles in a 


labors were afforded locally to the chapels in London and 
Bristol, to the great edification of the congregations. In one 
of his latest letters to his brother, entering into the question 
of a provision for the settlement of the future government 
of the Connection, he says, "I served West street chapel on 
Friday and Sunday. Stand to your own proposal : < Let us 
agree to differ.' I leave America and Scotland to your latest 
thoughts and recognitions; only observing now, that you are 
exactly right : keep your authority while you live; and, after 
your death, detur digniori, or rather, dignioribus. You can- 
not settle the succession. You cannot divine how God will 
settle it." 

Thus Charles gave up as hopeless the return to the Church, 
and suggested the plan which his brother adopted — to devolve 
the government, not indeed upon one, but upon many, whom 
he esteemed " the worthiest " for age, experience, talent, and 



Mr. Wesley's sickness in Ireland — Letter to the Commisioners of Ex- 
cise — "Visit to the Isle of Man — Opening of City Road chapel — "Ar- 
minian Magazine" — Disputes in the society at Bath — Mr. Wesley's 
letter to a nobleman — HHis visit to Holland — "Deed of Declaration" 
— Remarks. 

In 1775, Mr. Wesley, during a tour in the north, of Ire- 
land, had a dangerous sickness, occasioned by sleeping on the 
ground, in an orchard, in the hot weather, which he says he 
had been u accustomed to do for forty years, without ever 
being injured by it." He was slow to admit that old age had 
arrived, or he trusted to triumph long over its infirmities. 
The consequence in this case, however, was, that, after man- 
fully struggling with the incipient symptoms of the complaint, 
and attempting to throw them oif by reading, journeying, and 
preaching, he sank into a severe fever; from which, after 
lying insensible for some days, he recovered with extraordinary 
rapidity ; and resumed a service which, extended as it had 
been through so many years, was not yet to be terminated. 
"Whilst in London, the next year, the following incident 
occurred : 

An order had been made by the House of Lords, " That 
the commissioners of his Majesty's excise do write circular 
letters to all persons whom they have reason to suspect to have 
plate, as also to those who have not paid regularly the duty 
on the same," etc. In consequence of this order, the Ac- 
countant-General for Household Plate sent Mr. Wesley a 
copy of the order, with the following letter : 

" Reverend Sir : 

"As the commissioners cannot doubt but you have plate 


for which you have hitherto neglected to make an entry, they 
have directed me to. send you the above copy of the Lords' 
order; and to inform you, they expect that you forthwith 
make due entry of all your plate ; such entry to bear date 
from the commencement of the Plate Duty, or from such time 
as you have owned, used, had, or kept any quantity of silver 
plate, chargeable by the Act of Parliament; as, in default- 
hereof, the Board will be obliged to signify your refusal to 
their Lordships. 

"N. B. An immediate answer is desired." 

Mr. Wesley replied as follows : 

" Sir : I have two silver teaspoons at London, and two at 
Bristol. This is all the plate which I*have at present; and 
I shall not buy any more while so many around me want 
bread. I am, sir, 

" Your most humble servant, 

" John Wesley." 

No doubt the commissioners of his Majesty's excise thought 
that the head of so numerous a people had not forgot- 
ten his own interests, and that the interior of his episcopal 
residence in London was not without' superfluities and splen- 

The Bishop of Sodor and Man having written a pastoral 
letter to all the clergy within his diocese, to warn their flocks 
against Methodism, and exhorting them to present all who 
attended its meetings in the spiritual courts, and to repel 
every Methodist preacher from the sacrament, Mr. Wesley 
hastened to the island, and in May, 1777, landed at Douglas. 
In every place he appears to have been cordially received by 
all ranks ; and his prompt visit probably put a stop to this 
threatened ecclesiastical violence, for no further mention is 
made of it. The societies in the island continued to flourish; 
and, on Mr. Wesley's second visit, he found a new bishop, of 
a more liberal character. 

The Foundry having become too small for the comfortable 
accommodation of the congregation in that part of London, 
and being also gloomy and dilapidated, a new chapel had been 
erected. "November 1st," says Mr. Wesley, "was the 


day appointed for opening the new chapel in the City Road. 
It is perfectly neat, but not fine, and contains far more than 
the Foundry ; I believe, together with the morning chapel, 
as many as the Tabernacle. Many were afraid that the mul- 
titudes, crowding from all parts, would have occasioned much 
disturbance ; but they were happily disappointed ; there was 
none at all ; all was quietness, decency, and order. I preached 
on part of Solomon's prayer at the dedication of the temple; 
and both in the morning and afternoon God was eminently 
present in the midst of the congregation. "* 

Here the brothers agreed to officiate as often as possible 
till the congregation should be settled. Two resident clergy- 
men were also employed at th'is chapel as curates, for reading 
the full Church service, administering the sacraments, and 
burying the dead. But Mr. Charles Wesley took some little 
offence at the liberty given to the preachers to officiate in his 
brother's absence, and when he himself could not supply. 
His letter of complaint produced, however, no change in his 
brother's appointments ; nor was it likely. Mr. Wesley 
knew well that his own preaching at the new chapel, and the 
ministrations of the other clergymen, during the hours of ser- 
vice in the parish church, without a license from the bishop, 
or the acknowledgment of his spiritual jurisdiction, was just 
as irregular an affair, considered ecclesiastically, as the other. 
The City Road chapel, with its establishment of clergy, ser- 
vice in canonical hours, and sacraments, was, in the eye of 
the law, as much as any Dissenting place of worship in Lon- 
don, a conventicle; though, when tried by a better rule, it 
was eminently, in those days of power and simplicity, " none 
other than the house of God, and the gate of heaven," to de- 
vout worshippers. An influence of a very extraordinary kind 
often rested upon the vast congregations assembled there ; 
thousands were trained up in it for the kingdom of God ; and 
the society exhibited a greater number of members, perhaps, 
than any other, except that in Bristol, who, for intelligence, 
deep experience in the things of God, stability, meekness of 
spirit, and holiness of life, were at once the ornaments of 
Methodism, and an influential example to the other societies 
of the metropolis. 

* Journal. 


In 1778 Mr. Wesley began to publish a periodical work, 
which he entitled, "The Arminian Magazine; consisting of 
Extracts and Original Treatises on Universal Redemption." 
He needed a medium through which he could reply to the 
numerous attacks made upon him ; and he made use of it 
further to introduce into general circulation several choice 
treatises on Universal Redemption, and to publish selections, 
from his valuable correspondence with pious persons. He 
conducted this work while he lived ; and it is still continued 
by the Conference, under the title of the " Wesleyan Method- 
ist Magazine/' on the same general principles as to its the- 
olosrv, though on a more enlarged plan. 

A dispute of a somewhat serious aspect arose in the follow- 
ing year out of the appointment of a clergyman by Mr. Wes- 
ley to preach every Sunday evening in the chapel at Bath. 
It was not probable that the preachers of the circuit should 
pay the same deference to a strange clergyman, recently intro- 
duced, as to Mr. Wesley ; but when this exclusive occupation 
of the pulpit on Sunday evenings was objected to by them 
and part of the society, Mr. Wesley, supported by his brother, 
who had accompanied him to Bath, stood firmly upon his right 
to appoint when and where the preachers should officiate, as 
a fundamental part of the compact between them ; and the 
assistant preacher, Mr. M'Nab, was suspended until "he came 
to another mind." As Mr. M'Nab who had thus fallen under 
Mr. Wesley's displeasure was supported by many of the other 
preachers, a stormy Conference was anticipated. To this meet- 
ing Mr. Wesley, therefore, foreseeing that his authority would 
be put to the trial, strongly invited his brother, in order that 
he might assist him with his advice. At first Mr. Charles 
Wesley declined, on the ground that he could not trust to his 
brother's vigor and resolution. He, however, attended; but 
when he saw that Mr. Wesley was determined to heal the 
breach by concession, he kept entire silence. The offending 
preacher was received back without censure; and, from this 
time, Dr. Whitehead thinks that Mr. Wesley's authority in 
the Conference declined. This is not correct; but that 
authority was exercised in a different manner. Many of the 
preachers had become old in the work; and were men of 
great talents, tried fidelity, and influence with the societies. 
These qualities were duly appreciated by Mr. Wesley, who 


now regarded them more than formerly, when they were 
young and' inexperienced, as his counsellors and coadjutors. 
It was an eminent proof of Mr. Wesley's practical wisdom, 
that he never attempted to contend with circumstances not to 
be controlled; and from this time he placed his supremacy no 
longer upon authority, but upon the influence of wisdom, 
character, and age, and thus confirmed rather than diminished 
it. Had Mr. Charles Wesley felt sure of being supported by 
his brother with what he called "vigor," it is plain from his 
letter on the occasion, that he would have stood upon the 
alternative of the unconditional submission of all the preach- 
ers, or a separation. His brother chose a more excellent way; 
and no doubt foresaw, not only that if a separation had been 
driven on by violence, it would have been^n extensive one; 
but that among the societies which remained the same process 
would naturally, and necessarily, at some future time take 
place, and so nothing be ultimately gained, to counterbalance 
the immediate mischief. The silence maintained by Mr. 
Charles Wesley in this Conference did him also great honor. 
He suspected "the warmth of his temper;" he saw that, as 
his brother was bent upon conciliation, any thing he could 
say would only endanger the mutual confidence between him 
and his preachers ; and he held his peace. He himself believed 
that a formal separation of the body of preachers and people 
from the Church would inevitably take place after his bro- 
ther's death, and thought it best to bring on the crisis before 
that event. " You," says he to his brother, "think other- 
wise, and I submit." The fact has been, that no such separa- 
tion as he feared, that is, separation on such principles, and 
under such feelings of hostility to the Established Church, has 
yet taken place. 

The following letter written by Mr. Wesley in 1782, to a 
nobleman, high in office, shows how much his mind was alive 
to every thing which concerned the morals and religion of 
the country; and is an instance of the happy manner in 
which he could unite courtesy with reproof, without destroy- 
ing its point. A report prevailed that the Ministry designed 
to embody the militia, and exercise them on a Sunday. 

" My Lord : 
" If I wrong your Lordship, I am sorry for it ; but I really 


believe your Lordship fears God ; and I hope your Lordship 
has no unfavorable opinion of the Christian revelation. This 
encourages me to trouble your Lordship with a few lines, which 
otherwise I should not take upon me to do. 

"Above thirty years ago, a motion was made in Parliament 
for raising and embodying the militia, and for exercising 
them, to save time, on Sunday. When the motion was like 
to pass, an old gentleman stood up and said, ' Mr. Speaker, I 
have one objection to this: I believe an old book, called the 
Bible/ The members looked at one another, and the motion 
was dropped. 

" Must not all others, who believe the Bible, have the very 
same objection ? And from what I have seen, I cannot but 
think, these are still three-fourths of the nation. Now, set- 
ting religion out of the question, is it expedient to give such 
a shock to so many millions of people at once ? And, cer- 
tainly, it would shock them extremely ; it would wound them 
in a very tender part. For would not they, would not all 
England, would not all Europe, consider this as a virtual 
repeal of the Bible ? And would not all serious persons say, 
' We have little religion in the land now ; but by this step 
we shall have less still. For wherever this pretty show is to 
be seen, the people will flock together; and will lounge away 
so much time before and after it, that the churches will be 
emptier than they are already !' 

u My Lord, I am concerned for this on a double account. 
First, because I have personal obligations to your Lordship; 
and would fain, even for this reason, recommend your Lord- 
ship to the love and esteem of all over whom I have any influ- 
ence. Secondly, because I now reverence your Lordship for 
your office' sake; and believe it to be my bounden duty to do 
all that is in my little power to advance your Lordship's influ- 
ence and reputation. 

"Will your Lordship permit me to add a word in my old- 
fashioned way ? I pray Him that has all power in heaven 
and earth to prosper all your endeavors for the public good; 
and am, My Lord, 

" Your Lordship's willing servant, 

"John Wesley." 

In 1783 Mr. Wesley paid a visit to Holland, having been 


pressed to undertake this journey by a Mr. Ferguson, formerly 
a member of the London society, who had made acquaintance 
with some pious people, who, having read Mr. Wesley's ser- 
mons, were desirous of seeing him. 

The following are extracts from his Journal ; and they will 
be read with pleasure, both as exhibiting his activity at so 
advanced an age, and as they present an interesting picture 
of his intercourse with a pious remnant in several parts of 
that morally deteriorated country : 

"Wednesday, June 11. I took coach with Mr. Bracken- 
bury, Broadbent, and Whitfield ; and in the evening we 
reached Harwich. I went immediately to Dr. Jones, who 
received me in the most affectionate manner. About nine 
in the morning we. sailed; and at nine on Friday, 13th, 
landed at Helvoetsluys. Here we hired a coach for Briel ; 
but were forced to hire a wagon also, to carry a box which 
one of us could have carried on his shoulders. At Briel we took 
a boat to Rotterdam. We had not been long there, when Mr. 
Beunet, a bookseller, who had invited me to. his house, called 
for me. But as Mr. Loyal, the minister of the Scotch con- 
gregation, had invited me, he gave up his claim, and went 
with us to Mr. Loyal's. I found a friendly, sensible, hospit- 
able, and, I am persuaded, a pious man. 

l< Saturday, 14. I had much conversation with the two 
English ministers, sensible, well-bred, serious men. These, 
as well as Mr. Loyal, were very willing I should preach in 
their churches; but they thought it would be best for me to 
preach in the Episcopal church. By our conversing freely 
together, many prejudices were removed, and all our hearts 
seemed to be united together. 

41 Sunday, 15. The Episcopal church is not quite so large 
as the chapel in West street; it is very elegant both without 
and within. The service began at half-past nine. Such a 
congregation had not often been there before. I preached on, 
'God created man in his own image.' The people ' seemed 
all, but their attention, dead.' In the afternoon the church 
was so filled, as (they informed me) it had not been for these 
fifty years. I preached on, ' God hath given us eternal life ; 
and this life is in his Son.' I believe God applied it to many 
hearts. Were it only for this hour, I am glad I came to 


" Monday, 16. We set out in a track-skuit for the Hague. 
By the way we saw a curiosity : the gallows near the canal, 
surrounded with a knot of beautiful trees ! so the dying man 
will have one pleasant prospect here, whatever befalls him 
hereafter ! 

"At eleven we came to Delft, a large, handsome town; 
where we spent an hour at a merchant's house;' who, as well 
as his wife, a very agreeable woman, seenied both to fear and 
to love God. Afterwards we saw the great church, I think, 
nearly, if not quite, as long as York Minster. > It is exceed- 
ingly light and elegant within, and every part is kept exqui- 
sitely clean. 

" When we came to the Hague, though we had heard 
much of it, we were not disappointed. It is, indeed, beau- 
tiful beyond expression. Many of the houses are exceed- 
ingly grand, and finely intermingled .with water and wood; 
yet not too close, but so as to be sufficiently ventilated by 
the air. 

" Being invited to tea by Madame de Vassenaar, (one 
of the first quality in the Hague.) I waited upon her in the 
afternoon. She received us with that easy openness and 
affability which is almost peculiar to Christians and persons 
of quality. Soon after came ten or twelve ladies more, who 
seemed to be of her own rank, (though dressed quite plainly,) 
and two most agreeable gentlemen ; one of whom, I after- 
wards understood, was a colonel in the Prince's Guards. 
After tea I expounded the first three verses of the thirteenth 
chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians. Captain 
M. interpreted, sentence by sentence. I then prayed, and 
Colonel V after me. I believe this hour was well em- 

"Tuesday, 17 We dined at Mrs. L 's, in such a 

family as I have seldom seen. Her mother, upwards of 
seventy, seemed to be continually rejoicing in God her 
Saviour. The daughter breathes the same spirit; and her 
grandchildren, three little girls and a boy, seem to be all love. 
I have not seen four such children together in England. A 
gentleman coming in after dinner, I found a particular desire 
to pray for him. In a little while he melted into tears, as 
indeed did most of the company. Wednesday, 18. In the 
afternoon Madame de Vassenaar invited us to a meeting at a 


neighboring lady's house. I expounded Galatians vi. 14, and 
Mr. M. interpreted, as before. 

" Thursday, 19. "We took boat at seven. Mrs. L., and 
one of her relations, being unwilling to part so soon, bore us 
company to Leyden, a large and populous town, but not so 
pleasant as Rotterdam. In the afternoon we went on to 
Haerlem, where a plain, good man and his wife received us 
in a most affectionate manner. At six we took boat again. 
As it was filled from end to end, I was afraid we should not 
have a very pleasant journey. After Mr. Ferguson had told 
the people who we were, we made a slight excuse, and sang 
a hymn. They were all attention. We then talked a little, 
by means of our interpreter, and desired that any of them 
who pleased would sing. Four persons did so, and sang 
well. x\fter a while we sang again. So did one or two of 
them; and all our hearts were strangely knit together; so 
that, when we came to Amsterdam, they dismissed us with 
abundance of blessings. 

'• Friday, 20. At five in the evening we drank tea at a mer- 
chant's, Mr. G 's, where I had a long conversation with 

Mr. de H., one of the most learned, as well as popular, minis- 
ters in the city; and I believe (what is far more important) 
he is truly alive to God. He spoke Latin well, and seemed 
to be one of a strong understanding, as well as of an excellent 
spirit. In returning to our inn, we called at a stationer's; 
and though we spent but a few minutes, it was enough to con- 
vince us of his strong affection, even to strangers. What a 
change does the grace of God make in the heart ! Shyness 
and stiffness are now no more ! 

"Sunday, 22. I went to the New church, so called still, 
though four or five hundred years old. It is larger, higher, 
and better illuminated, than most of our cathedrals. The 
screen that divides the church from the choir is of polished 
brass, and shines like gold. I understood the psalms that 
were sung, and the text well, and a little of the sermon, 
which Mr. de H. delivered with great earnestness. At two 
I began the service at the English church, an elegant build- 
ing, about the size of West street chapel ; only it has no gal- 
leries, nor have any of the churches in Holland. I preached 
on Isaiah lv. 6, 7 ; and I am persuaded many received the 
truth in the love thereof. 


"After service-I spent another hour at Mr. V 's. Mrs. V 
again asked me abundance of questions concerning deliverance 
from sin, and seemed a good deal better satisfied with regard 
to the great and precious promises. Thence we went to Mr. 
B., who had lately found peace with God. He was full 
of faith and love, and could hardly mention the goodness 
of God without tears. His wife appeared of the same spirit, 
so that our hearts were soon knit together. From thence we 
went to another family, where a large company were assem- 
bled ; but all seemed open to receive instruction, and desirous 
to be altogether Christians. 

" Wednesday, 25. We took boat for Haerlem. The great 
church here is a noble structure, equalled by few cathedrals 
in England, either in length, breadth, or height. The organ 
is the largest I ever saw, and is said to be the finest in 
Europe. Hence we went to Mr. Van K.'s, whose wife was 
convinced of sin, and brought to God, by reading Mr. White- 
field's sermons. 

" Here we were at home. Before dinner we took a walk 
in Haerlem wood. It adjoins to the town, and is cut out 
in many shady walks, with lovely vistas shooting out every 
way. The walk from the Hague to Scheveling is plea- 
sant; those near Amsterdam more so; but these exceed 
them all. 

" We returned in the afternoon to Amsterdam ; and in 
the evening took leave of as many of our friends as we could. 
How entirely were we mistaken in the Hollanders, supposing 
them to be of a cold, phlegmatic, unfriendly temper ! I have 
not met with a more warmly affectionate people in all Europe ! 
No, not in Ireland ! 

" Thursday, 26. Our friends having largely provided us 
with wine and fruits for oui little journey, we took boat 
in a lovely morning for Utrecht, with Mr. Van K.'s sister; 
who, in the way, gave us a striking account. ' In that 
house,' said she, pointing to it as we went by, ' my husband 
and I lived; and that church adjoining it was his church. 
Five years ago we were sitting together, being in perfect 
health, when he dropped down, and in a quarter of an hour 
died. I lifted up my heart, and said, Lord, thou art my 
husband noiv ; and found no will but his.' This was a trial 
worthy of a Christian ; and she has ever since made her word 


good. We were scarcely got to our inn at Utrecht, when 
Miss L. came. I found her just such as I expected. She came 
on purpose from her father's country-house, where all the 
family were. I observe, of all the pious people in Holland, 
that, without any rule but the word of God, they dress as 
plainly as Miss March did formerly, and Miss Johnson does 
now ! And, considering the vast disadvantage they are 
under, bavins; no connection with each other, and being; under 
no such discipline at all as we are, I wonder at the grace of 
God that is in them. 

" Saturday, 28. I have this day lived fourscore years; and, 
by the mercy of God, my eyes are not waxed dim j and what 
little strength of body or mind I had thirty years since, is just 
the same I have now. God grant I may never live to be use- 
less. Rather may I 

' My body "with rny charge lay down, 
And cease at once to work and live.' 

" Sunday, 29. At ten I began the service in the English 
church in Utrecht. I believe all the English in the city were 
present, and forty or fifty Hollanders. I preached on the 
13th of the first of Corinthians, I think as searchingly as ever in 
my life. Afterwards, a merchant invited me to dinner. For 
six years he had been at death's door by an asthma, and was 
extremely ill last night ; but this morning, without any vis- 
ible cause, he was well, and walked across the city to the 
church. He seemed to be deeply acquainted with religion, 
and made me promise, if I came to Utrecht again, to make 
his house my home. 

" In the evening, a large company of us met at Miss L.'s, 
where I was desired to repeat the substance of my morning 
sermon. I did so, Mr. Toydemea, the professor of law in the 
university, interpreting it sentence by sentence. They then 
sang a l)utch hymn, and we an English one. Afterwards, 
M. Ilegulet, a venerable old man, spent some time in prayer 
for the establishment of peace and love between the two 

"Tuesday, July 1. I called on as many as I could of my 
friends, and we parted with much affection. We then hired 
a yacht, which brought us to Heivoetsluys, about eleven the 
next day. At two we went on board ; but the wind turning 

256 THE LIFE or 

against us, we did not reach, Harwich, till about nine on Fri- 
day morning. After a little rest, we procured a carriage, and 
reached London about eleven at night. ' 

" I can by no means regret either the trouble or expense 
which attended this little journey. It opened me a way into, 
as it were, a new world, where the land, the buildings, the 
people, the customs, were all such as I had never seen before ; 
but as those with whom I conversed were of the same spirit 
with my friends in England, I was as much at home in 
Utrecht and Amsterdam, as in Bristol and London." 

That provision for the stability and the government of the 
Connection, after his death, which had been to Mr. Wesley a 
matter of serious concern for several years, was accomplished 
in 1784, and gave him, whenever he subsequently reverted to 
the subject, the greatest satisfaction. From this time he felt 
that he had nothing more to do, than to spend his remaining 
life in the same spiritual labors in which he had been so long 
engaged ; and that he had done all that a true prudence 
required, to provide for the continuance and extension of a 
work which had so strangely enlarged under his superintend- 

This settlement was effected by a legal instrument, enrolled 
in chancery, called "A Deed of Declaration/' in, which one 
hundred preachers, mentioned by name, were declared to be 
" the Conference of the people called Methodists. " By 
means of this Peed, a legal description was given to the term 
Conference, and the settlement of the chapels upon trustees 
was provided for; so that the appointment of preachers to 
officiate in them should be vested in the Conference, as it had 
heretofore been in Mr. Wesley. The Deed also declares how 
the succession and identity of the yearly Conference is to he 
continued, and contains various regulations as to the choice 
of a president and secretary, the filling up of vacancies, ex- 
pulsions, etc. Thus " the succession," as it was called in 
Mr. Charles Wesley's letter, above quoted, was provided for; 
and the Conference, with its president, chosen annually, came 
into the place of the founder of the Connection, and has so 
continued to the present day. As the whole of the preachers 
were not included in the Deed, and a few who thought them- 
selves equally entitled to be of the hundred preachers who 
thus formed the legal Conference were excepted, some dissat- 


isfaction arose ; but as all the preachers were eligible to be 
introduced into that body, as. vacancies occurred, this feeling 
was but partial, and soon subsided.* All the preachers in 
full connection were also allowed to vote in the Conference; 
and subsequently, those who were not of the hundred, but 
had been in connection a certain number of years, were per- 
mitted, by, their votes, to put the president into nominatiou 
for the confirmation "of the legal Conference. Thus all rea- 
sonable ground for mistrust and jealousy was removed from 
the body of the preachers at large ; and with respect to the 
hundred preachers themselves, the president being chosen 
annually, and each being eligible to that honor, efficiency of 
administration was wisely connected with equality. The con- 
sequence has been, that the preachers have generally remained 
most firmly united by affection and mutual confidence, and 

* "Messrs. John Hampson, Sen., andJohn Hampson, Jun., his son, 
William Eells, and Joseph Pilmoor, with a few other travelling preach- 
ers, were greatly offended that their names were not inserted in the 
Deed. By Mr. Fletcher's friendly efforts, a partial reconciliation was 
effected between them and Mr. Wesley ; but it Avas of short continu- 
ance. Soon after the Conference, 1784, Mr. Hampson, Sen., became 
an Independent minister; but, being old and infirm, and the people 
poor among whom he labored, he was assisted out of the preachers' 
fund while he lived. He died in the year 1795. Mr. Hampson, Jun., 
procured ordination in the Established Church, and got a living in 
Sunderland, in the north of England. Mr. Eells also left the Connec- 
tion, and, some time after, joined Mr. Atlay atDewsbury; and Mr. 
Pilmoor went to America." — Mi/lrx. 

[It must bo borne in mind that Mr. Pilmoor, who was sent to Amer- 
ica by Mr. We-dey in 170'J, returned to England in 1771.' When he came 
back to America he took orders in the Protestant Episcopal Church, and 
lived and died a highly respected minister of a congregation in Phila- 
delphia. It is Said that as he was- one day pluming himself some- 
what on belonging to a ministry that could claim the presence of 
Christ, a Methodist present stepped up to him and asked him whether 
or not Christ was with him when, as a plain Methodist preacher, he 
preached to a vast multitude on the race-ground, the judges' stand 
being his pulpit. The Doctor paused a moment, and then replied, 
with the honesty for which he was remarkable, " If Christ was ever 
with me in all my life, ho was with me then." The occasion was one 
of remarkable power and demonstration of the Spirit; and the infer- 
ence was patent. The old citizens of Philadelphia speak of Dr. Pil- 
moor as simple in his manners, preaching to the last like a Method- 
ist preacher, and maintaining friendly intercourse with his quondam 
brethren.— T. 0. S.] 



that few serious disputes have ever arisen among them, or 
have extended beyond a very few individuals. Ecclesiastical 
history does not, perhaps, present an instance of an equal 
number of ministers brought into contact so close, and called 
so frequently together, for the discussion of various subjects, 
among whom so much general unanimity, both as to doctrines 
and points of discipline, has prevailed, joiued with so much 
real good will and friendship towards each other, for so great 
a number of years. This is the more remarkable, as, by their 
frequent changes from station to station, opposite interests 
and feelings are very often brought into conflict. The final 
decisions of the Conference on their 'appointment to these 
stations, generally the most perplexing part of ite annual busi- 
ness, are, however, cheerfully or patiently submitted to, from 
the knowledge that each has of the public spirit with which that 
body is actuated, and the frank and brotherly manuer in 
which all its proceedings are conducted. The order of pro- 
ceeding in the business of the Conference is the same as in 
the days of Mr. Wesley. It admits candidates for the min- 
istry, on proper recommendation from the superintendents 
and district meetings; examines those who have completed 
their probation of four years, and receives the approved into 
full connection, which is its ordination ; investigates, without 
any exception, the character and talents of those who are 
already in connection year by year; appoints, the stations of 
the year ensuing ; sends additional preachers to new places; 
receives the reports of the committees appointed to manage 
and distribute various funds ; reviews the state of the socie- 
ties ; and issues an annual pastoral address. At the time of 
the meeting of the Conferences, besides the Sunday services, 
public worship is held early in the morning, and in the even- 
ing of every day, except Saturday, which is usually attended 
by great multitudes. The business of each Conference, ex- 
clusive of that done in committees which meet previously, 
occupies, on the average, about a fortnight in every year. 
Were it not for the district meetings, composed of the preach- 
ers and the stewards of a number of circuits, or stations, in 
different parts of the kingdom, (an arrangement which was 
adopted after Mr. Wesley's death,) the business of the Confer- 
ence would require a much longer time to transact; but in 
these meetings much is prepared for its final decision. 


In this important and wise settlement of the government 
of the Connection by its founder, there appears but one regu- 
lation which seems to controvert that leading maxim to which 
he had always respect, namely, to be guided by circumstances 
in matters not determined by some great principle. I 'allude 
to the proviso which obliges the Conference not to appoint 
any preacher to. the same chapel for more than three years 
successively; thus binding an itinerant ministry upon the 
societies for ever. Whether this system of changing minis- 
ters be essential to the spiritual interests of the body or not, 
or whether it might not be usefully modified, will be matters 
of opinion ; but the point ought, perhaps, to' have been left 
more at liberty. 



State of the societies in America — Ordination of superintendents 
and elders for the American societies — Remarks — Dr. Coke — Mr, 
Asbury — Mr. Charles Wesley's remonstrances — Ordinations for 
Scotland — Remarks — Mr. Wesley's second visit to Holland — His 
labors in England, Ireland, and the Norman Isles — Return to 
London — Remarks — Extract from a sermon by Bishop Copleston — 
Mr. Wesley's reflections on the progress of the work> and on enter- 
ing his eighty-fifth year. 

The state in which the separation of the United States 
from the mother country left the Methodist American socie- 
ties, had become a matter of serious concern to Mr. Wesley, 
and presented to him a new case, for which it was imperative 
to make some provision. This, however, could done 
but by a proceeding which he foresaw would lay him open to 
much remark, and ( Some censure, from the rigid English 
Episcopalians. But with him, the principle of making every 
thing indifferent give place to the necessity of doing good or 
preventing evil was paramount; arid when that necessity 
was clearly made out, he was not a man to hesitate. The 
mission of Messrs. Boardman and Pilmoor to America has 
been already mentioned. Two years afterward, in 1771, 
Mr. Wesley sent out Messrs. Asbury and Wright; and in 
1773, Messrs. Rankin and Shadford. In 1777, the preachers 
in the different circuits in America had amounted to forty, 
and the societies had also greatly increased. These were 
scattered in towns and settlements so distant, that it re- 
quired constant and extensive travelling from the preachers to 
supply them with the word of God. The two last-mentioned 
preachers returned; after employing themselves on the mis- 


sion for about five years ;* and Mr. Asbury, a true itinerant, 
■who, in this respect, followed, in America, the unwearied ex- 
ample of Mr. Wesley, gradually acquired a great and deserved 
intiuence, which, supported as it was by his excellent sense, 
moderating temper, and entire devotedness to the service of 
God, increased rather than diminished to the end of a pro- 
tracted life. The American preachers, like those in England, 
were at first restrained by Mr. Wesley from administering 
either of the sacraments; but when,*t>hrough the war, and the 
acquisition of independence by the States, most of the clergy 
of the Church of England had left the country," neither the 
children of the members of the Methodist societies could be 
baptized, nor the Lord's Supper administered among them, 
without a change of the original plan. Mr. Asbury's predi- 
lections for the former order of things prevented him from 
listening to the request of the American societies to be 
formed into a regular Church, anjd furnished with all its spirit- 
ual privileges ; and a division had already taken place among 
them. This breach, however, Mr. Asbury had the address to 
heal; and at the peace he laid the whole case before Mr. Wes- 
ley. The result will be seen in-the following letter : 



"Bristol, September 10, 1784. 
" By a very uncommon train of providences, many of the 
provinces of North America are totally disjoined from their 
mother country, and erected into" independent States. The 
English government has no authority over them, either civil 
or ecclesiastical, any more' th&n over the States of Holland. 
A civil authority is exercised over them, partly by the Con- 
gress, partly by the Provincial Assemblies. But no one either 
exercises or claims any ecclesiastical authority at all. In this 
peculiar situation, some thousands of the inhabitants of these 

[* The nam 3s of Messrs. Bonrdman and Pilmoor are not. in the 
Minutes of 177.'i, the first on record : they both returned to England 
in 1774. The names of Messrs Rankin. Rodda, and Shadford, are in 
the Minutes of 1777, but the first two returned to England in that, 
and the last in the following year. Richard Wright appears only 
in the Minutes of 1778, when he was stationed at Norfolk. — T. 0. S.] 

262 THE LIFE or 

States desire my advice ; and, in compliance with their de- 
sire, I have drawn up a little sketch. 

" Lord King's account of the Primitive Church convinced 
me, many years ago, that bishops and presbyters are the sarnie 
order, and consequently have the same right to ordain. For 
many years I have been importuned, from time to time, to 
exercise this right, by ordaining part of our travelling 
preachers ; but I have stjill refused, not only for peace' sake, 
but because I was determined, as little as possible, to violate 
the established order of the national Church to which I be- 

" But the case is widely different between England and 
North America. Here there are bishops who have a legal 
jurisdiction. In America there are none, neither any parish 
ministers. So that, for some hundred miles together, there 
is none either to baptize, or to administer ^the Lord's Supper. 
Here, therefore, my scruples are at an end; and I conceive 
myself at full liberty, as I violate no order, and invade no 
man's right, by appointing and sending laborers into the 

" I have accordingly appointed Dr. Coke, and Mr. Francis 
Asbury, to be joint superintendents over our brethre'n in 
North America ; as also Kichard Whatcoat and Thomas 
Vasey to act as elders among them, by baptizing and adminis- 
tering the Lord's Supper. And I have prepared a liturgy, 
little differing from that of the Church of England, (I think 
the best-constituted national Church in the world,) which I 
advise all the travelling preachers to use on the Lord's day, 
in all the congregations, reading the Litany only on Wednes- 
days and Fridays, and praying extempore on all other days. 
I also advise the elders to administer the Supper of the Lord 
on every Lord's day. 

" If any one will point out a more rational and scriptural 
way of feeding and guiding those poor sheep in the wilder- 
ness, I will gladly embrace it. At present I cannot see any 
better method than that I have taken. 

" It has, indeed, been proposed to desire the English 
bishops to ordain part of our preachers for America. But to 
this I object, 1. I desired the Bishop of London to ordain 
only one, but could not prevail. 2. If they consented, we 
know the slowness of their proceedings; but the matter ad- 


mits of no delay. 3. If they would ordain them now, they 
would likewise expect to govern them. And how grievously 
would this entangle us I 4. As our American brethren are 
now totally disentangled both from the state and from the 
English hierarchy, we dare not entangle them again either with 
the one or the other. They'are now, at full liberty simply to 
follow the Scriptures and the primitive Church. 4 n d we 
judge it best that they should stand fast in that liberty where- 
with God has so strangely made them free. 

" John Wesley." 

Two persons were thus appointed as superintendents or 
bishops, and two as elders, with powe'r to administer the 
sacraments ; and the American Methodists were formed into 
a Church, because they could no longer remain a society 
attached to a colonial establishment which then had ceased to 
«xist. The propriety and even necessity of this step is suffi- 
ciently apparent ; but the mode adopted exposed Mr. Wesley 
to the sarcasms of his, brother, who was not a convert to his 
opinion as to the identity of the order of bishops and pres- 
byters; and to all High-Churchmen the proceeding has had 
the appearanoe of great irregularity. The only real irregu- 
larity, however, has been generally overlooked, .whilst a merely 
apparent one has been made the chief subject of animadver- 
sion. The true anomaly was, that a clergyman of the 
Church of England should ordain, in any form, without sepa- 
rating from that^ Church, and formally disavowing its author- 
ity. And yet, if its spiritual governors did not choose to 
censure and disown him for denying the figment of the unin- 
terrupted succession, which he openly saia "he knew to be 
a fable ;" for maintaining that bishops and priests were 
originallyone order only; (points, let it be observed, which 
perhaps but few Churchmen will now, and certainly but few 
at that time, would very seriously maintain, so decisive is the 
evidence of Scripture and antiquity against them, and so 
completely was the doctrine of the three orders given up by 
the founders of the English Church itself;)* nor, finally, for 

* *' I am not ashamed of the room and office which I have given 
unto me by Christ to preach his gospel; for it is the power of God, 
that is to say, the elect organ or instrument ordained by God, and 

264 THE LIFE OI 1 

proceeding to act upon that principle by giving orders; it 
would be hard to prove that he was under any moral obliga- 
tion to withdraw from the Church. The bishops did not 
institute proceedings against, him; and why should he form- 
ally renounce them altogether ? It was doubtless such a view, 
of his liberty, in this respect, that made him say on this occa- 
sion, in answer to his brother, "I firmly believe that I am a 
scriptural emoiiOTTOc;, as much as any man in England, or in 
Europe; for the uninterrupted succession I know to be a 
fable, which no man ever did or can prove. But this does, 
in no wise, interfere with my remaining in the Church of 
England; from which I have no more desire to separate 'than 
I had fifty years ago." 

The point which has been most insisted upon is the 
absurdity of 'a priest ordaining bishops. But this absurdity 
could not arise from the principle which Mr. Wesley had 
adopted, namely, that the orders were identical; and the cen- 
sure therefore rests only upon the assumption that bishops 
and priests were of different orders ; which he denied. He 
never did pretend to ordain bishops, in the modern sense; 
but only according to his view of primitive episcopacy. Little 
importance, therefore, is to be attached to Mr Moore's state- 
ment,* that, Mr. Wesley having named Dr. Coke" and Mr. 
Asbury simply superintendents, he was displeased when, in 

endued with such virtue and efficacy, that it is able to give, and 
administer effectually, everlasting life unto all those that will believe 
and obey unto the same. 

" Item. That this office, this power and authority, was committed 
and given by Christ and his apostles unto certain persons only, that is to 
say, unto priests and bishops whom they did elect, call, and admit 
thereunto, by their prayers, and imposition of their hands. 

"The truth is, there is no mention made of any degrees or distinctions in 
orders, but only of deacons or ministers, and of priests or bishops." — A 


bishops and priests, Regno Hen. VIII. citciter A. D. 1537-40. 

This Declaration was signed by Cromwell the Vicar-General, Cran- 
mer and Holgate, the archbishops, with many of their suffragans, to- 
gether with other persons intituled, "Sacrce Theologies, Juris Eccle- 
siastici et Civilis, Professores." 

Archbishop Usher's plan for comprehending the Presbyterians and 
Episcopalians in the time of Charles I. was also founded upon the 
principle of bishops and presbyters being one order. 

* Life of Wesley. 


America, they took the title of bishop s. The only objection 
he could have to the name was,, that, from long association; it 
was likely to convey a meaning beyond his own intention. 
But this* was a matter of mere prudential feeling, confined to 
himself;, so that neither are Dr. Coke and Mr. Asbury to be 
blamed, for using that appellation in • Mr. Wesley's sense; 
which was the same as presbyter, as far as order was con- 
cerned ; nor the American societies, (as they have sometimes 
inconsiderately been,) for calling themselves, in the same 
view, "-The American Methodist Episcopal Church;" since 
th^ir episcopacy is founded upon the principle of bishops 
and presbyter's being of the same degree — a more extended 
office only being assigned to the former, as in the primitive 
Church. For though nothing can be more obvious than that 
the primitive pastors are called bishops or presbyters indis- 
criminately in the New Testament ; yet, at an early period, 
those presbyters were, by way of distinction, denominated 
bishops, who presided in the meetings of the presbyters, and 
were finally invested with the government of several churches, 
with their respective presbyteries; so that two offices were 
then, as in this case, grafted upon the same order. Such an 
arrangement was highly proper for America, where many 
of the preachers were young, and had also to labor in 
distant and extensive circuits, and were therefore incapable 
of assisting, advising, or controlling each other. A travelling 
episcopacy, or superintendency, was there an extension of the 
office of elder or presbyter, but it of course created no other 
distinction ; and the bishops of the Methodist Church in 
America have in practice as well exemplified the primitive 
spirit, as in principle they were conformed to the primitive 
discipline. Dr. Coke was only an occasional visitant in Ame- 
rica ; and though, in the sense of office, he was a bishop 
there, when he returned home, as here he had no such office, 
so he used no such title, and made no such pretension. Of 
this excellent man, it ought here to be said, that occasional 
visits to America could not satisfy his ardent mind : he 
became the founder and soul of the Methodist missions in 
various parts of the world, first under the direction of Mr. 
Wesley, and then in conjunction with the Conference; and 
by his voyages, travels, and labors, he erected a monument 
of noble and disinterested zeal and charity, which will never 


be obliterated.* But Mr. Asbury remained the preaching, 
travelling, self-denying bishop of the American societies, till 
afterwards others were associated with him, plain and simple 
in their manners as the rest of their brethren, and distin- 
guished from them only by " labors more abundant." 

It was by thus absurdly confounding episcopacy in the 
modern acceptation, and in Mr. Wesley's view, that a good 
deal of misplaced wit was played off on this occasion ; and 
not a little bitterness was expressed by many. He, however, 
performed a great and a good work ; and not only provided 
for the spiritual wants of a people who indirectly had sprung 
from his labors, but gave to the American Church a form of 
administration admirably suited to a new and extensive em- 
pire, and under which the societies have, by the Divine bless- 
ing, prospered beyond all precedent. Some letters passed 
between him and Mr. Charles Wesley, on the subject of the 
American ordinations. The first, written by Charles, was 
warm and remonstrative ; the second, upon receiving his> 
brother's calm answer, was more mild, and shows that he was 
less afraid of what his brother had done for America, than 
that Dr. Coke, on his return, should form the Methodists of 
England into a regular and separate Church also ! The con- 
cluding paragraph of this letter is, however, so affecting, so 
illustrative of that oneness of heart which no difference of 
opinion between the brothers could destroy, that it would be 
unjust to the memory of both not to insert it : 

" I thank you for your intention to remain my friend. 
Herein my heart is as your heart. Whom God hath joined, 
let not man put asunder. We have taken each other for bet- 
ter, for worse, till death do us — part ? no ; but eternally unite. 
Therefore, in the love 'which never faileth, 

" I am your affectionate friend and brother, 

" C. Wesley." 

* Dr. Coke connected himself with Mr. Wesley in 1776, as stated 
by the latter in his Journal: "-Being at Kingston,' near Taunton, I 
found a clergyman, Dr. Coke, late gentleman commoner of Jesus 
College, in Oxford, who came twenty miles on purpose. I had much 
conversation with him ; and a union then began, which, I trust, shall 
never end." His name did not appear on the Minutes till the year 
1778. In that year he was appointed to labor in London. 


Some time after this, Mr. Wesley appointed several of the 
English preachers,' by imposition of hands, to administer the 
sacrameuts to the societies in Scotland. There the English 
Establish meat did not extend, and a necessity of a somewhat 
similar kind existed, though not of so pressing a nature, as in 
America. He, however, steadily objected to give this liberty, 
generally, to his preachers in England; and those who admin- 
istered the sacraments in Scotland were not permitted to per- 
form the same office in England upon their return. The rea- 
son why he refused to appoint, in the same manner, and for 
the same purpose, for England, is stated in the letter above 
given. He was satisfied of his power, as a presbyter, to ordain 
for such an* administration j but he says,. " k I have still refused 
not only for peace' sake, but because I was determined as 
little as possible to violate the established order of the national 
Church to which I belonged/' This was a prudent principle 
most sincerely held by trim ; and it explains his conduct in 
those particulars for which he has been censured by opposite 
parties. When it could not be avoided, without sacrificing 
some real good, he did violate "the established order/' think- 
ing that this brder was in itself merely prudential. When 
that necessity did not exist, his own predilections, and the 
prejudices of many members of his societies, enforced upon 
him this abstinence from innovation. It may, however, be 
asked, in what light Mr. Wesley's appointments to the minis- 
try, in the case of his own preachers, ought to be viewed. 
That they were ordinations to the work and office of the min- 
istry, cannot -be reasonably and scripturally doubted; and 
that they were so in his own intention, we have before shown 
from his own Minutes. It was required of them, as early as 
174G, to profess to be "moved by the Holy Ghost, and to be 
called of God to preach." This professed call was to bo 
tested by their piety, their gifts, and their usefulness ; all 
which points were investigated ; and after a probation they 
were solemnly received by prayer, "to labor with him in the 
gospel/' and from that time were devoted wholly to their 
spiritual work,* including the pastoral care of societies. Here 

* It is observable that, in the Conference of 1768, he enjoined 
abstinence from all secular things upon them, both on the scriptural 
principle, 1 Timothy iv. 13, and on the ground that the Church, "in 
her office of ordination," required this of ministers. 


was ordination, though, without imposition of hands, which, 
although an impressive ceremony, enters not, as, both the 
Scriptures and the nature of the thing itself point out, into 
the essence of ordination ; which is a separation of men, by 
ministers, to the work of the ministry, by solemn prayer. 
This was done at every Conference by Mr. Wesley; who, as 
he had, as early as 1747, given up the uninterrupted succes- e 
sion and the distinct order of bishops as a fable, left himself, 
therefore, at liberty to appoint to the ministry in his own way. 
He made, it is true, a distinction at one time between the 
primitive offices of evangelists or teachers, and pastors, as to 
the right of giving the sacraments, which he thought belonged 
to the latter only; but as this implied that the primitive pas- 
tors had powers which the primitive evangelists, who ordained 
them, had not, it was too unsupported a notion for him long 
to maintain.* Yet, had this view of the case been allowed, 
the preachers were not mere teachers, but pastors, in the 
fullest sense. They not only taught, but guided and man- 
aged, the societies; receiving members, excluding members, 
and administering private, as well as public, admonitions; 
and if they were constituted teachers and pastors by his ordi- 
nation, without the circumstance of the imposition of hands, 
it is utterly impossible to conceive that that ceremony con- 
veyed any larger right, as such, to administer the sacraments, 
in the case of the few he did ordain in that manner for Scot- 
land and America. As to them, it was a form of permission 
and appointment to exercise the right. His appointments to 
the ministry every Conference necessarily conveyed all the 
rights of a pastor, because they conveyed the pastoral office; 
but still, it did not follow that all the abstract rights of the 
ministry, thus conveyed to the body of the preachers, should 
be actually used. It was not imperative upon them to exer- 
cise all their functions; and he assumed no improper authority, 
as the father and founder of the Connection, to determine 
to what extent it was prudent to exercise them, provided he 
was satisfied that the sacraments were not put out of the 
power of the societies to observe. He exercised this suspend- 
ing authority even over those preachers whom he appointed 
to give the sacraments in Scotland, by prohibiting them from 

* See Moore's Life of Wesley, vol. ii., p. 340. 


administering in the English societies, ovef which they be- 
came pa-tors. So little difference did his ordination by impo- 
sition of hands make in their case, even in his own estimation.* 
It was, followed the usual mode of introducing can- 
didates into the ministry, a mere form of permission to exer- 
cise a previous right in a particular place, and a solemn 
designation to this service according to a liturgical form 
which he greatly admired ; but the true ordination of those 
who were so' set apart to administer the sacraments to the 
ministry itself, was the same as that of the rest of their 
brethren, and took place at the satoe time. Thus in Mr. 
Wesley s strongest language to Mr. Charles Perronet and the 
other preachers who thought it their duty to administer, he 
places his objection upon the decisive ground of his thinking 
it "a sin;" but not from their want of true ordination, to 
which he makes no allusion;"]" but he thought it sinful, 
because it would be injurious to the work of God, aud so 
contrary to his word and will. That it was not, iu his view, 
"a sip," for want of mere imposition of hands, is clear from. 
the facts, that, in one case, he gave to one of the preachers 
leave to baptize and give the sacrament in particular circum- 
stances, although he had no other ordination than his being 
"received into full connection" af the Conference, like the 
rest; and allowed two others, Mr. Highfield in England, and 
Mr. Myles in Dublin, to assist him in giving the sacrament, 
to the great offence of the Church people there. J That the 

* When a few of tfte preachers received ordination from a Gveek 
bishop, then in England, from whom he was falsely reported himself 
to have sought consecration, he would not suffer them to administer, 
although he did not doubt that the Greek was a true bishop. 

\ As early as 1700, he says to some of the preachers, "You think 
it is a duty to administer. Do so; and therein follow your own con- 
science." That is, .they were :it liberty to leave him; but not a word 
about the invalidity of their appointment to the whole work of the 

J Mr. Wesley's innovations on Church order in Dublin appear, from 
several of his letters, to have produced somewhat outrageous attacks 
upon him from different quarters in that city. In one of them he says, 
"Every week I am bespattered in the public papers. Many are in 
tears on the occasion; many terribly frightened, mid crying out, '0, 
what will the end be?' What will it* be? Why, glory to Uod in the 
highest, and peace and good-will among men." Such was his rejoin- 
der to these High Church alarms. At the same time, it must be con- 


original designation of the preachers to the ministry was con- 
sidered by the Conferences after his death — when they were 
obliged, in order to meet the spiritual wants and scriptural 
demands of the people, to administer the Lord's Supper 
to the societies in England — as a true and full ordination 
to the whole office of the Christian ministry, is clear from 
their authorizing the preachers to give the sacraments when 
requested by the societies, without reordination for this pur- 
pose, although. they had Mr. Wesley's Presbyterian ordination 
by imposition of hands among themselves, and at their com- 
mand, if they had judged it necessary to employ it. Their 
whole proceeding in this respect was merely to grant permis- 
sion to exercise powers which they believed to have been pre- 
viously conveyed by Mr. Wesley, in doing which they differed 
from him only in not marking that permission with any new 
form. Perhaps it might have been an improvement, had 
they accompanied all their future ordinations by the laying on 
of the hands of the president for the time being, assisted by 
a few of the senior preachers, and by using the fine ordina- 
tion service of the Church of England : not, indeed, that this 
would have given a tittle more of validity to the act; but the 
imposition of hands would have been in conformity to the 
usage of the majority of Churches, and an Instance of defer- 
ence to an ancient scriptural form of solemn designation and 
blessing, used on various occasions. The whole of Mr. Wes- 
ley's proceedings, both as to America and Scotland, would 
have been as valid on scriptural grounds, had there been no 
other form used than simple prayer for men, already in the 
ministry, going forth on an important mission ; but as the New 
Testament exhibited a profitable example of imposition of 
hands in the case of Paul and Barnabas, who had been long 
-before ordained to the highest order of the ministry, when 
sent forth into a new field of labor, this example was followed.* 

ceded that, however faithful Mr. Wesley was in abiding by his lead- 
ing principle, of making mere adherence to what was called "regular" 
give place to the higher obligation of doing good, he was sometimes 
apt, in defending himself, to be too tenacious of appearing perfectly 

* From the preceding observations, it will appear that Mr. Wesley's 
ordinations, both for America and Scotland, stood upon much the 
same ground. The full powers of the ministry had before been con- 


But we return to the continued and unabated labors of this 
venerable servant of God. In 1786, at the Bristol Con- 
ference, the old subject of separating from the Church was 
again discussed, and, " without one dissenting voice," it was 
determined to continue therein ; " which determination," he 

veyed to the parties; but now they had a' special designation to exer- 
cise them in every respect, in a new and peculiar sphere. Still, their 
ordination by imposition of hands did «not imply that their former 
ordination was deficient, as to the right of administering the sacra- 
ments which it conveyed ; for then, how came Dr. Coke, who was 
already a presbyter of the Church of England, to be ordained again, 
when, according to Mr. Wesley's own view, he could not be higher in 
order than a presbyter, although his powers might be enlarged, as to 
their application? The Conference, after Mr. Wesley's death, took, 
therefore, the true ground, in considering the act of admission into 
the ministry, so as to. be devoted wholly to it, and to exercise the 
pastoral charge, to be a true and scriptural ordination both to preach 
the word, and to administer the sacraments ; making wholly light of 
the absurd pretensions of a few among the preachers, who thought 
that they had received something more than their brethren, from the 
mere ceremony of the imposition of Mr. Wesley's hands, subsequent 
to their ordinary appointment by him when received into the body. 
Some of these, at the first Conference after Mr. Wesley's death, stood 
upon this point; but Mr. Benson refuted their nption, that imposi- 
tion of hands was essential to ordination. He proved, from the New 
Testament, that this was but a circumstance; and showed that the 
body had always possessed a ministry -scripturally, and therefore 
validly, ordained, although not in the most customary, or perhaps in 
the most influential, form. With Mr. Benson the Conference coin- 
cided ; so that ordination, without imposition of hands, has continued 
to be the general practice to the present time. It is remarkable, that 
the few preachers who insisted upon imposition of hands being essential 
to ordination, and plumed themselves upon being distinguished from 
their brethren, because" Mr. Wesley's hands had been laid upon them, 
did not remember a passage in a published letter of Mr. Wesley to 
Mr. Walker, of Truro, dated as long before as 1756, which sufficiently 
shows how totally disconnected the two things were in his mind; or 
that, if they adverted to it, its bearing in his controversy with Mr. 
Walker should not have 'been perceived: "That the seven deacons 
were outwardly ordained, even to that low office, cannot lie denied. 
But Paul and Barnabas were separated for the work to which they 
were called. This was not ordaining them: it was only inducting 
them to the province for which our Lord had appointed them. Fur 
this end the prophets and teachers fasted, prayed, and 'laid their 
hands upon them,' — a rite which wa.s used, not in ordination only, but 
in blessing, and on. many other occasions." [The British Conference, for 
some years past, has ordained by the imposition of hands. — T. 0. S.] 


remarks, a willfl doubt not, stand, at least till I am removed 
into, a better world." After the Conference was concluded, 
he paid a second visit to Holland, in company with Mr. 
Brackenbury and Mr. Broadbent',- preached in various places, 
expounded to private companies, and engaged in conversa- 
tion with many learned and pious individuals. On his re- 
turn to England, his Journal presents the usual record of con- 
stant preaching and travelling, interspersed with useful remark 
and' incident. .A few gleanings from it will be read with in- 
terest : 

" Dec. 23, 1786. By great importunity I was induced 
(having little hope of doing good) to visit two of the felons 
in Newgate, who lay under sentence of death. They ap- 
peared serious ; but I can lay little stress on appearances of 
this kind. However, I wrote in their behalf to a great man. 
And perhaps it was in consequence of this that they had a 

" Sunday, 24. I was desired to preach at the 01d % Jewry; 
but the church was cold, and so was the congregation. We 
had congregations of another kind the next day, Christmas 
day, at four in the morning, as well as five in the evening, 
at the New chapel, and at West street chapel about noon. 

" Sunday, 31. From those words of Isaiah to Hezekiah, 
1 Set thy house in order/ I strongly exhorted all who had not 
done it already, to settle their temporal affairs without delay. 
It is a strange madness which still possesses many who are in 
other respects men of understanding, that they put this off. 
from day to day, till death comes in an hour when they looked 
not for it". 

" Friday, January 5, 1787, and in the vacant hours of the 
following days, I read Dr. Hunter's Lectures. They are 
very lively and ingenious. The language is good, and the 
thoughts generally just. But they do not suit my taste. 
I do not admire that florid way of writing. Good sense does 
not need to be so studiously adorned. I love St. John's 
style, as well as matter. 

" Sunday, Feb. 25. After taking a solemn leave of our 
friends, both at West street and the New chapel, I took the 
mail-coach, and the next evening reached Exeter a little 
after ten o'clock. Tuesday, 27 We went on to Plymouth 
Dock. The large, new house, far the best in the west of 

THE REV J H N W E S L E T. 273 

England, was well filled, though on so short a warning; and 
they seemed cordially to receive the exhortation, ' Rejoice in 
the Lord, ye righteous.' I had the satisfaction to find the 
society here in a more flourishing state than ever. Not- 
withstanding all the pains that have been taken, and all the 
art that has been used, to tear them asunder, they cleave 
close together, and consequently increase. in number as well 
as in strength. 

" Wednesday, March 7. It rained much while we were 
at Plymouth and at the Dock, and most of the way from the 
Dock to Exeter.* But we had lovely weather to-day, and 
came into Bath early in the evening. So crowded a house I 
had not seen here for many years. I fully delivered my own soul, 
by strongly enforcing those awful words, ' Many are called, 
but few are chosen.' I believe the word sank deep into 
many hearts. The next evening we had another large con- 
gregation equally serious. Thursday, 8. I went on to Bristol; 
and the same afternoon Mrs. Fletcher came thither from 
Madeley. The congregation in .the evening was exceedingly 
large. I took knowledge what spirit they were of. Indeed, 
the work of God has much increased in Bristol since I was 
here last, especially among the young men, many of whom 
are a pattern to all the society. 

" Monday, April 2. About noon I preached at Stockport; 
and in the evening at Manchester, where I fully delivered my 
own soul, both then and the next day. Wednesday, 4. I 
went to Chester, and preached in the evening on Heb. iii. 
12. Finding there was no packet at Parkgate, I immediately 
took places in the mail-coach for Holyhead. The porter 
called us at two in the morning on Thursday, but came again 
in half an hour to inform us the coach was full ; so they re- 
turned me my money, and at four I took a post-chaise. We 
overtook the coach at Conway, and, crossing the ferry with 
the passengers, went forward without delay : so we came to 
Holyhead an hour before them, and went on board between 
eleven and twelve o'clock. At one we left the harbor, and 
at two the next day came into Dublin Bay 

( 'On the road, and in the ship, I read Mr. Blackwell's 
'Sacred ('lassies illustrated and defended.' I think he fully 
proves his point, that there are no expressions in the New 
Testament which are not found in' the best and purest Greek 


authors. In fhe evening we had a Sunday's congregation, 
and a blessing from on high. 

" Sunday, 8. (Easter-day.) I preached in Bethesda, Mr. 
Smyth's new chapel. It is very neat, but not gay ; and I 
believe will hold about as m&ny people as West street chapel. 
Mr. Smyth read prayers, and gave out the hymns, which 
were sung by fifteen or twenty fine singers; the rest of the 
congregation listeningwith much attention, and as much de- 
votion as they would have done to an opera. But is this 
Christian worship ? Or ought it ever to be suffered in a 
Christian church ? It was thought we had between seven 
and eight hundred communicants; and indeed the power of 
God was in the midst of them. Our own room in the even- 
ing was well filled with people, and with the presence of 

" On Monday and Tuesday I preached again at Bethesda, 
and God touched several hearts, even of the rich and great; 
so that, for the time, at least, they were ' almost persuaded to 
be Christians/ It seems as if the good providence of God 
had prepared this place for those rich and honorable sinners 
who will not deign to receive any message from God but in 
a genteel way. 

" Friday, 27 We went to Kilkenny, nine-and-twenty Irish 
miles from Mount Mellick. Beligion was here at a low ebb, 
and scarcely any society left, when God sent three troops of 
horse. Several of the men are full of faith and love : since 
they came, the work df God has revived. I never saw the 
house so filled since it was built. And the power of God 
seemed to rest upon the congregation, as if he would still 
have a people in this place. 

" Wednesday, May 9. Went to Bandon. Here also there 
has been a remarkable work of God; and yet not without 
many backsliders. It was, therefore, my chief business to 
strengthen the weak, and recall the wanderers. So in the 
evening I preached in the assembly-room, (which was offered 
me by the provost,) on, ' How shall I give thee up, Ephraim V 
And God applied his. word. At noon we took a walk to 
Castle-Barnard. Mr. Barnard has given it a beautiful front, 
nearly resembling that of Lord Mansfield's house at Caen- 
Wood, and opened paft of his lovely park to the house, which, 
I think, has now as beautiful a situation as Rockingham 


House in Yorkshire. Mr. Barnard much resembles, in person 
and air, the late Sir George Saville. Though he is far the 
richest person in these parts, he keeps no race-horses or hounds, 
bul loves his wife and home, and spends his time and fortune 
in improving his estate, and employing the poor. Gentlemen 
of this spirit are a blessing to their neighborhood. May God 
increase their number ! 

" In the evening, 'finding no building would contain the 
congregation, I stood in the main street, and testified to a 
listening multitude, 'This is not your rest.' I then ad- 
ministered the Lord's Supper to the society ; and God gave 
us a remarkable blessing. 

" Friday, May 25. I had a day of rest in this lovely 
family, (Mr. Slack's,) only preaching morning and evening. 
Saturday, 26. I preached at Ballyconnel about eleven. In 
the afternoon I took a walk in the Bishop of Kilmore's gar- 
den. The house is finely situated; has two fronts, and is fit 
for a nobleman. We then went into the churchyard, and 
saw the venerable tomb, a plain flat stone, inscribed, 'Deposi- 
tum Gulielmi Bedel, quondam Episcopi Kilmorensis ;' over 
whom even the rebel army sang, i Requiescat in pace ultimus 
Anglorjum.' ' Let the last of the Englishmen rest in peace/ 
At seveu I preached to a large congregation. It blew a 
storm, but most of the congregation were covered by a kind 
of shed raised for the purpose ; and not a few were greatly 

" Tuesday, 29. One of my horses I was obliged to leave in 
Dublin, and afterwards another, having bought two to supply 
their places. The third soon got a swelling in his shoufder, 
so that we doubted whether we could go on. And a boy at 
Clones, riding (I suppose galloping) the fourth over stones, 
the horse fell, and nearly lamed himself. However, we went 
on softly to Aughalun, and found such a congregation as I 
had not seen before in the kingdom. The tent (that is, a 
covered pulpit) was placed at the foot of a green sloping 
mountain, on the side of which the huge multitude sat (as 
their manner is) row above row. While I was explaining, 
' God hath given unto us his Holy Spirit,' he was, indeed, 
poured out in a wonderful manner. Tears of joy, and cries, 
were heard on every side ; only so far suppressed as not to 


drown my voice. I cannot but hope that many will have 
cause to bless God for that hour to all eternity. 

" Thursday, 31. We went over mountains and dales to Ker- 
lish-Lodge, where we met with a hearty welcome, both from 
Alexander Boyle and his amiable wife, who are patterns to 
all the country. -Mr. Boyle had spoken to Dr. Wilson, the 
recto,r of a neighboring town, concerning my preaching in the 
church, who wrote to the bishop, and received a letter in 
answer, giving a full and free consent. The Doctor desired 
me to breakfast with him. Meantime one of his parishioners, 
a warm seceder, took away the key of the church. So I 
preached in a neighboring orchard; I believe not in vain. 
The rector and his wife were in the front of the congregation. 
Afterward we took a view of Lord Abercorn's place. The 
house has a lovely situatidn ; and the front of it is as elegant 
as any I have seen either in Great Britain or Ireland. The 
grounds are delightful indeed, perhaps equal to any in the 

'■'• About five in the evening I preached at Killrail. No 
house would contain the congregation ; so I preached in the 
open air. The wind was piercingly cold, but the people re- 
garded it not. Afterwards I administered. the Lord's Supper 
to about a hundred of them, and then slept in peace. 

" Wednesday, June 6. I took leave of my dear friends at 
Londonderry, and drove to Newton-Limavady. I had no 
design to preach there. But, while we were at breakfast, the 
people were gathered so fast that I could not deny them. 
The house was soon filled from end to end. I explained to 
them the fellowship believers have with God. Thence I went 
on to Colerain, and preached at sis (as I did two years ago) 
in the barrack-yard. The wind was high and sharp enough ; 
but the people here are good old soldiers. Many attended at 
five in the morning, and a large congregation about six in the 
evening; most of whom, I believe, tasted the good wordj for 
God was with us of a truth.* 

" Tuesday, 12. We came through a most beautiful country 
to Downpatrick, a much larger town than I imagined; I 
think not much inferior to Sligo. The evening was uncom- 
monly mild and bright, there not being a cloud in the sky. 
The tall firs shaded us on every side, and the fruitful fields 


were- spread all around. The people were, I think, half as 
many more as were at Lisburn even on Sunday evening. On 
them I enforced those important' words, 'Acquaint now thyself 
with him, and be at peace.' 

'' Wednesday, 13. "Being informed we had on4y six-and- 
twenty miles to go, we did not set out till between six and 
seven. The country was uncommonly pleasant, running be- 
tween two high ridges of mountains; but it was up hill and 
doWn all the way, so that we did not reach Rathfriland till 
nearly noon. Mr. Barber, the Presbyterian minister, (a 
princely personage, I believe six feet and a half high,) offering 
me his new, spacious-preaching-house, the congregation quickly 
gathered together. I began, without delay, to open and 
enforce, 'Now God commandeth all men everywhere to 
repent.' I took chaise, the instant I had done; but the road 
being still up hill and down, we were two hours going what 
they culled six miles. I then quitted the chaise and rode* 
forward. But even then, four miles, so called, took an hour 
and a half riding; .so that I did not, reach Dr. Lesley's, at 
Tanderagee, till half an hour past four. About six, I stood 
upon the steps at Mr. Godly's door, and preached on ' This 
is not your rest,' to a larger congregation, by a third, than 
even that at Downpatrick. I scarcely remember to have seen 
a larger, unless in London, Yorkshire, or-Cornwall. 

"Tuesday, 26. Dublin. We were agreeably surprised 
with the arrival of Dr. Coke, who came from Philadelphia in 
nine-and-twenty'days, and gave us a pleasing account of the 
work of God in America. 

" Thursday, 28th. I had a conversation with Mr. Howard ; 
I think, one of the greatest men in Europe. Nothing but 
the mighty power of God can enable him to go through his 
difficult and dangerous employments. But what can hurt us, 
it" God be on our side ? 

" Sunday, July 22. Manchester. Our service began at 
ten. Notwithstanding the severe cold, which has continued 
many days, the house was well filled ; but my work was easy, as 
Dr. Coke assisted me. As many as could crowded in in the 
evening; but many were obliged to go away. Afterwards I 
spent a comfortable hour with the society. 

" Friday, 27. We went on to Bolton. Here are eignt 
hundred poor children taught iu our Sunday-schools by about 

278 THE LIFE or 

eighty masters,* who receive no pay but what they axe to 
receive from their great Master. About a hundred of them, 
part boys and part girls, are taught to sing. And they sang 
so true, that, all siuging together, they seemed to be but one 
voice. The house was thoroughly filled, while I explained 
and applied the first and great commandment. What* is all 
morality or religion without this? A mere castle in the air. 
In the evening, many of the children still hovering around 
the house, I desired forty or fifty to come in and sing, 

* Vital spark of heavenly flame.' 

Although some of them were silent, not being able to sing for 
tears, yet the harmony was such as I believe could not be 
equalled in the king's chapel. 

" Monday, August 6. Having taken the wliole coach for 
Birmingham, we set out, expecting to be there, as usual, 
about five in the evening. But having six persons within, 
and eight without, the coach could not bear the burden,, but 
broke down before three in the^morning. * Having patched it 
together as well as we could, we went on to Congleton, and 
got another. In an hour or two this broke also , and*one of 
the horses was so thoroughly tired, that he could hardly set 
one foot before the other. After all these hindrances, we got 
to Birmingham justf at seven. Finding 3 large congregation 
waiting, I stepped out of the x;oach into the house, and began 
preaching without delay. And such was the goodness of 
God, that I found no more weariness whenl had done than 
if I had rested all the day. 

" Here I took a tender' leave of Mrs. Heath and her lovely 
daughters, about to embark with Mr. Heath for America, 
whom I hardly expect to see any more till we meet in Abra- 
ham's bosom. 

" Friday, 10. Southampton. At six I preached on Heb. 
iv. 14. In the afternoon I went with a gentleman (3^1r. Tay- 
lor) to hear the famous musician that plays upon the glasses. 
By my appearing there (as I had foreseen) a heap of gentry 
attended in the evening. And I believe several of them, as 
well as Mr. T. himself, did not come in vain. 

" Tuesday, 14. Sailing ori with a fair wind, we fully ex- 
pected to reach Guernsey in the afternoon; but the wind 
turning contrary, and blowing hard, we found that would be 


impossible. We then judged it best to put in at the Isle of 
Aldemey; but we were very near being shipwrecked in the 
bay. About eight I went down to a convenient spot on the 
beach, and began giving out a hymn. 'A woman and two little 
children joined us immediately. Before the hymn was ended 
we had a tolerable congregation, all of whom behaved well : 
part,Sndeed, continued at forty or fifty yards ; distance; but 
the^ were all quiet and, attentive. 

" It happened, to speak in the vulgar phrase, that three or 
four who sailed with us from England, a gentleman, with his 
wife and sister, were near relations of the governor. He 
came to us this morning ; and, when I went into the room, 
behaved with the utmost courtesy. This little circumstance 
may remove prejudice, and make a more open way for the 

" Soon after we set sail; and after a very pleasant passage, 
through little islands on either hand, we came to the venerable 
castle, standing on a rock, about a quarter of a mile from 
Guernsey. The isle itself makes a beautiful appearance, 
spreading as a crescent to the right and left ; about seven 
miles long and five broad, part high land and part low. The 
town itself is boldly situated, rising higher and higher from 
the water. The first thing I observed in it was very narrow 
streets and exceedingly high houses. But we quickly went 
on to Mr. De Jersey's; hardly a mile from the town. Here I 
found a most cordial (welcome, both from the master of the 
house and all his family. I preached at seven, in a large 
room, to as deeply serious a congregation as I ever saw, on 
' Christ Jesus of God made unto us wisdom, righteousness, 
sanctification, and redemption.' 

" Monday, 20. We took ship between three and four in 
the morning, in a very small, inconvenient sloop, and not a 
swift sailer, so that we were seven hours in sailing what is 
called seven leagues. About eleven we landed at St. Helier's, 
and went straight to Mr. Brackenbury's house. It stands 
very pleasantly near the end of the town, and has a large, 
convenient garden, with a lovely range of fruitful hills, which 
rise at a small distance from it. I preached in the evening to 
an exceedingly serious congregation, on Matt. iii. ult. And 
almost as many were present at five in the morning, whom I 


exhorted to go on to perfection, which, many of them, Mr. 
Clarke informs me, are earnestly endeavoring .to do. 

" Thursday, 23. I rode to St. Mary's, five or six miles from 
St. Helier's, through* shady, pleasant lanes. None at the 
house could speak English ; but I had interpreters enow # In 
the evening our large room was thoroughly filled. I preached 
on, ' By grace are ye saved, through faith.' Mr. Brackerhbury 
interpreted sentence by sentence, and God owned his Word, 
though delivered in so awkward a manner; but especially in 
prayer : I prayed in English, and Mr. B. in French. 

" Saturday, 25. Having now leisure, I finished a sermon 
on 'Discerning the Signs of the Times/ This morning I 
had a particular conversation (as I had once or twice before) 
with Jeannie Bisson of this town, such a young woman as I 
have hardly seen elsewhere. She seems to be wholly devoted 
to God, and to have constant communion with him. She has 
a clear and strong understanding; and I cannot perceive the 
least tincture of enthusiasm. I am afraid she will not live 
long. I am amazed at the grace of God which is in her. 
I think she is far beyond Madam Guion in deep communion 
with God ; and I doubt whether I have found her fellow in 
England. Precious as my time is, it would have been worth 
my while to come to Jersey, had it been only to see this pro- 
digy of grace. 

" Monday, 27. I thought when I left Southampton to 
have been there again at this day; but God's thoughts were 
not as my thoughts. Here we are shut up in Jersey, for how 
long we cannot tell. But it is all well ; for thou, Lord, hast 
done it. It is my part to improve the time, as it is not 
likely I shall ever have another opportunity of visiting these 

" Tuesday, 28. Being still detained by contrary winds, I 
preached at six in the evening to a larger congregation than 
ever, in the assembly-room. It conveniently contains five or 
six hundred people. 

" Wednesday, 29. I designed to have followed the blow in 
the morning; but I had quite lost my voice. However, it 
was restored in the evening, and I believe all in the assembly- 
room (more than the last evening) heard distinctly, while I 
explained and applied, l I saw the dead, small and great, 


stand before God.' In the morning — Thursday, 30—1 took 
a solemn leave of the society. We set out about nine, and 
reached St. Peter's in the afternoon. Good is the will of the 
Lord. I trust he has something more for us to do here also. 
After preaching to a larger congregation than was expected, 
on so short a notice, on ' God was in Christ, reconciling the 
world unto himself,' I returned to Mont-Plasir, to stay just 
as long as it should please God. I preached there in the 
morning, Friday, 31, to a congregation serious as death. 

" Saturday, September 1. Xhis day twelvemonth I was de- 
tained in Holland by contrary winds. All is well, so we are 
doin<r and sufferins; the will of our Lord. In the evening, 
the storm driving us into the house again, I strongly exhorted 
a very genteel audience (such as I have rarely seen in Eng- 
land) to 'ask for the old paths, and walk therein/ 

"Sunday, 2. Being still pent up by the north-east wind, 
Dr. Coke preached at six in the morning, to a deeply affected 
congregation. I preached at eight, on Romans viii. 33. At 
one, Mr. Vivian, a local preacher, preached in French, the 
htnguage of the island.' At-five, as the house would not con- 
tain half the congregation, I preached rn a tolerably sheltered 
place, on the 'joy there is in heaven over one sinner that 
repenteth ;' and both high and low seemed to hear it gladly. 
I then designed to meet, the society, but could not. The 
people pressed so eagerly on every side that the house was 
filled presently ; so that I eould only give a general exhorta- 
tion, 'to walk worthy of their profession/ 

"I was in hopes of sailing in the morning, Monday, 3; 
but the storm so increased that it was judged impracticable. 
The congregation, however, in the evening, increased every 
day ; and they appeared to be more and more affected. So 
that I believe we were not detained for nothing, but for the 
spiritual and eternal good of many. 

"Tuesday, 4. The storm, continued, so that we could not 
stir. I took a walk to-day through what is called the New 
Ground, where the gentry are accustomed to walk in the 
evening. Both the upper ground, which is as level as a 
bowling-green, and the lower, which is planted with rows of 
trees, is wonderfully beautiful. In the evening I. fully de- 
livered my own soul, by showing what it is to ' build upon a 
rock/ But still we could not sail, the wind being quite con- 


trary, as well as exceedingly high. It was the same on Wed- 
nesday. In the afternoon we drank tea at a friend's, who 
was mentioning a captain just come from France, that pro- 
posed to sail in the morning for Penzance, for which the wind 
would serve, though not for Southampton. In this we 
plainly saw the hand of God; so we agreed with him imme- 

" Saturday, 8. Penzance. Dr. Coke preached at six tq 
as many as the preaching-house would contain. At ten I was 
obliged to take the field, by .the multitude of people that 
flocked together. I found a very uncommon liberty of speech 
among them, and cannot doubt but the work of God will 
flourish in this place. In the evening I preached at St. Ives, 
(but it being the market-day, so that I could not stand, as 
usual, in the market-place,) in a very convenient field at the 
end of the town, to a very numerous congregation — I need 
scarcely add, and very serious ; for such are all the congrega- 
tions in the county of Cornwall. 

" Sunday, 9. About nine I preached at the copper-works, 
three or four miles from St. Ives, to a large congregation, 
gathered from all parts, I believe, 'with the demonstration of 
the Spirit.' I then met the society in* the preaching-house ; 
which is unlike any other in England, both as to its form and 
materials. It is exactly round, and composed wholly of 
brazen slags, which, I suppose, will last as long as the earth. 
Between one and two I began in the market-place at Redruth, 
to the largest congregation I ever saw there. They not only 
filled all the windows, but sat on the tops of the houses. 
About five I began in the amphitheatre at Gwennap. I sup- 
pose we had a thousand more than ever were there before ; 
but it was all one ; my voice was strengthened accordingly, 
so that every one could hear distinctly. 

" Sunday, November 4. London. The congregation at 
the New chapel was far larger than usual; and the number 
of communicants was so great, that I was obliged to conse- 
crate thrice. 

" Monday, 5. In my way to Dorking, I read Mr. Duff's 
Essay on Genius. It is beyond all comparison deeper and 
more judicious than Dr. G.'s essay on that subject. If 
the Doctor had seen it-, which one can hardly doubt, it is a 
wonder he would publish his essay ; yet I cannot approve of 


his method. Why does he not first define his term, that we 
may know what he is talking about? I doubt, because his 
own idea of it was not clear. For genius is not imagination, 
any more than it is invention. If we mean by it a quality 
of the soul, it is, in its widest acceptation, an extraordinary 
capacity either for some particular art or science, or for all, 
for whatever may be undertaken. So Euclid had a genius 
for mathematics; Tully, for oratory; Aristotle and Lord 
Bacon had a universal genius, applicable to every thing. 

" Friday, 9. A friend offering to bear my expenses, I set 
out in the evening ; and on Saturday, 10, dined at Notting- 
ham. The preaching-house, one of the most elegant in Eng- 
land, was pretty well filled in the evening. 

" Sunday, 11. At ten, we had a lovely congregation ; and 
a very numerous one in the afternoon ; but I believe the 
house would hardly contain one half of those that came to it. 
I preached a charity sermon for the Infirmary, which was the 
design of my coming. This is not a county Infirmary; but 
is open to albEngland, yea, to all the world. And every 
thing about it is so neat, so convenient, and so well ordered, 
that I have seen none like it in the three kingdoms. Monday, 
12. In the afternoon we took coach again ; and on Tuesday 
returned to London. • 

" Sunday, 25. I preached two charity sermons at West 
street, in behalf of our poor children ; in which I endeavored 
to warn them, and all that have the care of them, against 
that English sin, ungodliness; that reproach of our nation, 
wherein we excel all the inhabitants of the earth. 

" Tuesday, December 4. I retired to Kainham, to prepare 
another edition of the New Testament for the press. 

'"Sunday, 9. London. I went down at half an hour past 
five, but found no preacher in the chapel, tjiough we had 
three or four in the house ; so I preached myself. After- 
wards, inquiring why none, of my family attended the morn- 
ing preaching, they said it was because they sat up too late. 
I resolved to put a stop to this ; and therefore ordered that, 

1. Every one under my roof should go to bed at nine ; that, 

2. Every one might attend the morning preaching. And so 
they have done ever since. 

" Monday, 10. I was desired to see the celebrated wax- 
work, at the Museum in Spring-Gardens. It exhibits most 


of the crownecf heads in Europe ; and shows their characters 
in their countenances. Sense and majesty appear in the King 
of Spain ; dulness and sottishness in the King of France ; infer- 
nal subtlety in the late King of Prussia; (as well as in the 
skeleton Voltaire ;) calmness and humanity in the Emperor, 
and King of Portugal ; exquisite stupidity iu the Prince of 
Orange; and amazing coarseness, with every thing that is 
unamiable, in the Czarina. 

" Sunday, 16. After preaching at Spitalfields, I hastened 
to St. John's, Clerkenwell, and preached a charity sermon for 
the Finsbury Dispensary, as I would gladly countenance every 
institution of the kind. 

" Saturday, 22. I yielded to the importunity of a painter, 
and sat, an hour and a half in all, for my picture. I think it 
is the best that ever was taken. But what is the picture of a 
man above fourscore V 

These extracts are from the Journal of 1787, when Mr. 
Wesley was in his eighty-fifth year. The labors and journeys 
of almost every day are similarly noticed, exhibiting at once 
a singular instance of natural strength, sustained, doubtless, 
by the special blessing of God, and of an entire consecration 
of time to the service of mankind, of which no similar ex- 
ample is, probably, on record ; and which is rendered still 
more wonderful by the consideration that it had been con- 
tinued for more than half a century, on the same scale of 
exertion, and almost without intermission. The vigor of his 
mind, at this age, is also as remarkable : the same power of 
acute observation as formerly is manifested ; the same taste 
for reading and criticism; the same facility in literary compo- 
sition. Nor is the buoyant cheerfulness of his spirit a less 
striking feature. Nothing of the old man of unrenewed 
nature appears ; no forebodings of evil ; no querulous compari- 
sons of the present with the past : there is the same delight 
in the beautiful scenes of nature; the same enjoyment of 
conversation, provided it had the two qualities of usefulness 
and brevity; the same joy in the hopeful appearances of 
good ; and the same tact at turning the edge of little discom- 
forts and disappointments by the power of an undisturbed 
equanimity. Above alk we see the man of one business, liv- 
ing only to serve G-od and his generation, " instant in season 
and out of season," seriously intent, not upon doing so much 


duty, but upon saving souls, and preaching, conversing, and 
writing for this end alone. And yet this is the man whom 
we still sometimes see made the object of the sneers of infidel 
or semi-infidel philosQphers; and* whom book-makers, when 
they have turned the interesting points of his character and 
history into a marketable commodity, endeavor to dress up, 
in the garb of a fanatic, or a dreamer, by way of rendering 
their works more acceptable to frivolou\ readers; the man to 
whose labors few, even of the evangelical clergy of the na- 
tional Church, have the heart or the courage to do justice ; for- 
getting how much that improved state of piety which exists 
in the Establishment is owing to the indirect influence of his 
long life of labor, and his successful ministry; and that even 
very many of themselves have sprung from familie's where 
Methodism first lighted the lamp of religious knowledge, and 
produced a religious influence. It will, indeed, provoke a 
smile, to observe what effort often discovers itself in writers 
of this party, when referring to the religious state of the 
nation in the last and present century, to keep this apostolic 
man wholly out of sight, as though he had never existed ; 
feeling, we suppose, that because he did not conform to the 
ortfer of their Church, in all particulars, it would be a sin 
against their own orthodoxy even tp name him as one of those 
great instruments in the hands of God, who, in mercy to these 
lands, were raised up to effect that vast moral and religious 
change,, the benefits of which they themselves so richly enjoy. 
This may be attributed, not only to that exclusive spirit which 
marks so many of the clergy of this class, even beyond others, 
notwithstanding their piety and general excellence, but to the 
Calvinism which many of them have imbibed. The evan- 
gelical Arminianism of Wesley has been forgiven by the 
orthodox Dissenters; but, by a curious anomaly, not by the 
Calvinistic party of the Church. It is, probably, better under- 
stood by the former.* 

* The following passage from a sermon lately preached in his dio- 
cese, by Bishop Copleston, may be quoted both as a better specimen 
of the spirit of a Churchman than that above referred to, and as, 
perhaps, the only instance in which any thing approaching to a due 
estimate of Mr. Wesley's character, and the value of his labors, has 
been suffered publicly to escape the lips of a prelate. It was dictated, 
evidently, by a oandid and liberal feeling, though not without being 


At the time'to which the above extracts from his Journal 
refer ; Mr. Wesley had, however, no reason to complain of any 

influenced by some of those mistaken views which will be corrected 
at the close of this account of Mr. Wesley's life : 

"And here, not only candor and equity, but a just sense of the 
constitution of Christ's Church, compels me to draw a marked line of 
distinction between thos€ whose religious assemblies are supplemen- 
tary, as it were, to our own Establishment, offering spiritual comfort 
and instruction to hundreds unable to find it elsewhere, and those 
organized communities which exclude from their society any that 
communicate in the blessed sacrament of the Lord's Supper with the 
national Church. 

"Of the former I would no.t only think and speak mildly, but in 
many cases I would commend the piety and zeal which animates them, 
full of danger as it is to depart from the apostolic ordinance, even in 
matters of outward discipline and order. The author and founder of 
those societies (for he was careful himself to keep them from being 
formed into a sect) was a regularly ordained minister, a man ortho- 
dox in his belief, simple and disinterested in his own views, and 
adorned with the most amiable and distinguishing virtues of a true 
Christian. He found thousands of his countrymen, though nominally 
Christians, yet as ignorant of true Christianity as infidels and hea- 
thens ; and, in too many instances, (it is useless to conceal or disguise 
the fact,) ignorant, either through the inattention of the government, 
in not providing for increased numbers, or through the carelessness 
and neglect of those whom the national Church had appointed to be 
their pastors. 

"But the beginning of schism, like that of strife, is as when one 
letteth out water. The gentle stream of piety and benevolence in 
which this practice originated, irrigating only and refreshing some 
parched or barren land, soon became a swelling and rapid torrent, 
widening as it flowed on, and opening for itself a breach whjch it may 
yet require the care and prudence of ages to close. And even the 
pious author himself was not proof against that snare of Satan which, 
through the vanity and weakness of human nature, led him, in his 
latter years, to assume the authority of an apostle, and to establish 
"a fraternity within the Church, to be called after his own name, and 
to remain a lasting monument of his activity and zeal. But over 
errors such as these let us cast a veil ; and rather rejoice in reflecting 
on the many whom he reclaimed from sin and wickedness, and taught 
to seek for salvation through the merits of their Saviour. 

"Of such, I repeat, wherever a like deficiency of religious means 
is found, we ought to speak not only with tenderness, but with 
brotherly love and esteem." 

It seems pretty obvious that Bishop Copleston has taken his impres- 
sions from Southey's Life of the Founder of Methodism, although 
somewhat modified by better views of spiritual rebgion. The moral 


want of respect, or of a due appreciation of his labors by the 
serious of all parties, although be regarded it not with im- 

destitution of the country, and the negligence of the Church, are 
acknowledged, as well as the important effects produced by Mr. 
Wesley's labors, at least' in their early stages ; and yet, these results 
are spoken of as somewhat of a religious calamity ! The beginning 
of " schism," as to Church order, is compared to the letting out of 
water; and a fearful "breach" out of the Established Chureh com- 
pletes the picture. How little does' this sensible and amiable bishop 
know of the facts of the case ! as, for instance, 1. That the Methodist 
societies were, in great part, gathered not out of church-goers, but 
church-neglecters. 2. That the effect was, generally, for many years, 
to increase the attendance at church, and to lay the foundation, in a 
great number of places, especially in the more populous towns, of 
large church congregations, which have continued to this day. 3. 
That the still more extensive and ultimate result was, after persecu- 
tion or silent contempt had been tried in vain, and when it was found 
that obstinate perseverance in neglect would not be any longer tole- 
rated, that the Establishment was roused into an activity by which it 
has, doubtless, been greatly benefited, as far as respects its moral 
influence, the only influence of a Church which can be permanent or 
valuable. 4. That very few •*)£ the 'Methodists of the present day 
would, in all probabihty, have been, in any sense which Bishop Co- 
pleston would value, church-people ; and so this supposed loss of 
ecclesiastical members affords but an imaginary ground for the regrets 
with which he seems to surround it. The intimation of Mr. Wesley's 
ambition is imitated from Southey. But of this, enough has been 
said in refutation. Bishop Copleston, indeed, regards it mildly as an 
infirmity, which he would charitably cover with Mr. Wesley's numer- 
ous and eminent virtues. That is kind; but Mr. Wesley himself 
would have taken a* severer view of this "weakness," had he been 
conscious of the passion of ambition, in the sense in which it is hero 
used. One might ask this respectable prelate to review* the case, and 
say where Mr. Wesley, allowing him his conscientious conviction that 
he was bound to incessant activity in doing good to the souls of men, 
could have stopped ? how iie could have disposed of his societies, in 
the then existing state of the Church? and whether, if he had this 
"ambition" to be the head of a sect, his whole life did not lay re- 
straints upon it, since, from nearly the very first outset of his itine- 
rancy and success, it has been shown in this work, by extracts from 
the Minutes of his first Conferences, that he took views of ecclesias- 
tical polity which then set him quite at liberty, had he chosen it, to 
form his societies into a regular Church, to put himself at their head, 
and to kindle up a spirit of hostility to the Establishment, and of 
warm partisanship in his own favor, throughout the land ? A vicious 
ambition would have preferred this course. But it is not necessary 
to anticipate the remarks which will follow on these subjects. 

288 THE LIFE or 

proper exultation, but passed through " honor," as he had 
passed through " dishonor"- in the former years of his life, 
as " seeing Him who is invisible/' This period of his life 
must have been to him, on a much higher account, one of 
rich reflection. In his Journal of 1785, March 24, he ob- 
serves, "I was now considering how strangely the grain of 
mustard-seed, planted about fifty years ago, had grown up. 
It has spread through all Great Britain, and Ireland, the Isle 
of Wight, and the Isle of Man ; then to America, through 
the whole continent, into Canada, the Leeward Islands, and 
Newfoundland. And the societies, in all these parts, walk 
by one rule, knowing that religion is in holy tempers, and 
striving to worship. God, not in form only, but likewise in 
spirit and- in truth." 

He must, indeed, have been insensible to the emotions of 
a generous nature, had he not felt an honest satisfaction, 
that he had lived down calumnies; and that where mobs 
formerly awaited him, he met with the kind and cheering 
attentions of the most respectable persons of all religious 
persuasions, in -every part of the country. But, more than 
this, he could compare the dearth and barrenness of one age 
with the living verdure and fertility of another. Long-for- 
gotten truths had been made familiar: a neglected population 
had been brought within the range of Christian instruction, 
and the constant preaching of the word of life by faithful 
men : religious societies had been raised up through the land, 
generally distinguished by piety and zeal : by the blessing. of 
G-od upon the labors of Mr. Whitefield, and others of his first 
associates, the old Dissenting churches had been quickened 
into life, and new ones multiplied : the Established Church 
had been awakened from her lethargy; the number of faith- 
ful ministers in her parishes greatly multiplied : the influence 
of religion spread into the colonies, and the United States of 
America; and, above all, a vast multitude, the fruit of his 
own ministerial zeal and faithfulness, had, since the time in 
which he commenced his labors, departed into a better world. 
These thoughts must often have passed through his mind, 
and inspired his heart with devout thanksgivings, although 
no allusion is ever made to them in a boastful manner. 
For the past, he knew to whom the praise belonged; and 
the future he left to God ; certain, at least, of meeting in 


heaven a greater number of glorified spirits of whose salva- 
tion he had beeD, under God, the instrument, than any min- 
ister of modern ages. That ''joyful hope" may explain an 
incident which occurred toward the close of his life at the 
City Road chapel, London. After prayers had been read 
one Sunday forenoon, he ascended the pulpit; where, instead 
of announcing the hymn immediately, he, to the great sur- 
prise of the congregation, stood silent, with his eyes closed, 
for the space of at least ten minutes*, rapt in thought; and 
then, with a feeling which at once conveyed to all present the 
subject which had so absorbed his attention, gave .out the 
hymn commencing with the lines, 

"Come, let unjoin our friends above, 
"Who have obtained the prize." 

It was also his constant practice to preach on All Saints' 
Dny, which was with him a favorite festival, on communion 
with the saints in heaven : a practice probably arising out of 
the same delightful association of remembrances and hope. 

On his attaining his eighty-fifth year, he makes the follow- 
ing reflections : 

" I this day enter .on my eighty-fifth year. And what 
cause have I to praise God, as for a thousand spiritual bless- 
ings, so for bodily blessings also ! How lit'tle have I suffered 
yet by ' the rush of numerous years !' It is true, I am not 
so agile as I was in times past : I do not run or walk so fast 
as I did. My sight is a little decayed. My left eye is grown 
dim, and hardly serves me to read. I have daily some pain 
in the ball of my right eye, as also in my right temple, (oc- 
casioned by a blow received some time since,) and in my 
right shoulder and arm, which I impute partly to a sprain, 
and partly to the rheumatism. I find likewise some decay 
iu my memory, with regard to names and things lately passed ; 
but not at all with regard to what I have read or heard, 
twenty, forty, or sixty years ago. Neither do I find any de- 
cay in my hearing, smell, taste, or appetite, (though I want 
but a third part of the food I once diet,) nor do I feel any such 
thing as weariness, either in travelling or preaching. And 
I am not conscious of any decay in writing sermons; which 
I do as readily, and, I believe, as correctly, as ever. 

" To what cause can I impute this, that I am as I am ? 


First, doubtless, to the power of God, fitting me for the work 
to which I am called, as long as he pleases to continue me 
therein ; and next, subordinately to this, to the prayers of 
his children. May we not impute it, as inferior means, 1. 
To my constant exercise and change of air ? 2. To my never 
having lost a night's sleep, sick or well, at land or sea, since 
I was born ? 3. To my having sleep at command, so that, 
whenever I feel myself almost worn out, I call it, and it comes, 
day or night ? 4. To my having constantly, for above sixty years, 
risen at four in the morning? 5. To my constant preaching 
at five in the morning, for above fifty years ? 6. To my hav- 
ing had so little pain in my life, and so little sorrow or anxious 
care ? Even now, though I find pain daily in my eye, temple, 
or arm, yet it is never violent, and seldom lasts many minutes 
at a time. 

" Whether or not this is sent to give me warning that I 
am shortly to quit this tabernacle, I do- not know; but, be it 
one way or the other, I have only to say, 

' My remnant of days 

I spend to his praise 
Who died the whole world to redeem : 

Be they many or few, 

My days are his due, 
And they all are devoted to him !' " 

And, referring to some persons in the nation who thought 
themselves endowed with the gift of prophecy, he adds, "If 
this is to be the last year of my life, according to some of 
these prophets, I hope it will be the best. I am not careful 
about it, but heartily receive the advice of the angel in 

' How well is thine ; how long permit to heaven.' " 



Death of Mr. Charles Wesley — His character — His hymns — Re- 
marks — Mr. Montgomery's "Psalmist" — Anecdote of the Rev. 
Samuel Wesley, Sen — Mr. Wesley's continued labors — Reflec- 
tions on entering his eighty-eighth year — Last sickness — Death — 
Funeral — Epitaph — Sketches of his character by different writers. 

The brothers, whose affection no differences of opinion, and 
no conflicts of party, could diminish, were now to be sepa- 
rated by death. Of the last days of Mr. Charles Wesley, 
Dr. Whitehead gives the following account : 

"Mr. Charles Wesley had a weak body, and a poor state 
of health, during the greatest part of his life. I believe he 
laid the foundation of both at Oxford by too close application 
to study, and abstinence from food. He rode much on horse- 
back, which probably contributed to lengthen out life to a 
good old age. I visited him several times in his last sick- 
ness; and his body was indeed reduced to the most extreme 
state of weakness. He possessed that state of mind which 
he had been always pleased to see in others — unaffected hu- 
mility, and holy resignation to the will of God. He had no 
transports of joy, but solid hope and unshaken confidence in 
Christ, which kept his mind in perfect peace. A few days 
before his death he composed the following lines. Having 
been .silent and quiet for some time, he called Mrs. Wesley 
to him ; and bid her write as he dictated : 

'In age and feebleness extreme, 
Who shall a sinful worm redeem ? 
Jesus, my only hope thou art, 
Strength of my failing flesh and heart: 
could I cateh a smile from thee, 
And drop into eternity I' 


" He die* March 29th, 1788, aged seventy-nine years and 
three months; and was buried April 5th, in Marybone church- 
yard, at his own desire. The pall was supported by eight 
clergymen of the Church of England. On his tombstone are 
the following lines, written by himself, on the death of one 
of his friends : they could not be more aptly applied to any 
person than to Mr. Charles Wesley : 

' With poverty of spirit blessed, 
Rest, happy saint, in Jesus rest: 
A sinner saved, through grace forgiven, 
Redeemed from earth to reign in heaven ! 
Thy labors of umvearied lpve, 
By thee forgot, are crowne'd above : 
Crowned, through the mercy of thy Lord, 
With a free, full, immense reward!' 

" Mr. Charles Wesley was of a warm and lively disposi- 
tion, of great frankness and integrity, and generous and steady 
in his friendships. In conversation he was pleasing, instruct- 
ive, and cheerful ; and his observations were often seasoned 
with wit and humor. His religion was genuine and unaf- 
fected. As a minister, he was familiarly acquainted with 
every part of divinity; and his mind was furnished with an 
uncommon knowledge of the Scriptures. His discourses 
from the pulpit were not dry and systematic, but flowed from 
the preseut views and feelings of his own mind. He had a 
remarkable talent of expressing the most important truths 
with simplicity and energy; and his discourses were some- 
times truly apostolic, forcing conviction on the hearers, in 
spite of the most determined opposition. As a husband, a 
father, and a friend, his character was amiable. Mrs. Wesley 
brought him five children, of whom two sons and a daughter 
are still living.* The sons discovered so fine a taste for 

* Miss Wesley, a lady of eminent talents, and great excellence, 
died September 19, 1828. 

It would be improper to withhold, as I have them before me, in the 
unpublished letters with which I have been favored, some incidental 
remarks of the late Miss Wesley, on the character of her father : 

"Mr. Moore seems to think that my father preferred rest to going 
about to do good. He had a rising family, and considered it his duty 
to confine his labors to Bristol and London, where he labored most 
sedulously in ministerial offices ; and judged that it was incumbent 


music, at an early period of life, that they excited general 
astonishment; and they are now justly admired, by the 
best judges, for their talents in that pleasin'g art. The 
Methodists are greatly indebted to Charles Wesley for his 
unwearied labors and great usefulness at the first formation 
of the societies, when every step was attended with difficulty 
and danger. And, being dead,* he yet speaketh by his 
numerous and excellent hymns*, written for the use of the 
societies, which still continue to be the means- of daily edifica- 
tion and comfort to thousands."*' 

For the spiritual advantages which the Methodists have 
derived from his inestimable hymns, which are in constant use 
in their congregations, as well as for his early labors, the 
memory of Mr. Charles Wesley indeed deserves to be had in 
their everlasting remembrance ; and they are not insensible of 
the value of the gift. Their taste has been formed by this high 
standard ; and| notwithstanding all the charges of illiteracy, 
and want of mental cultivation, which have been often brought 
against them, we may venture to say, there are few collections 
of psalms and hymns in use in any othe'r congregations, that 
would, as a whole, be tolerated amongst them ; so powerful 

upon him to watch over the youth of his sons ; especially in a profes- 
sion which nature so strongly pointed Out, but which was peculiarly 
dangerous. He always said his brother was formed to lead, and he 
to follow. No one ever more rejoiced in another's superiority, or was 
more willing to confess it. Mr. Moore's statement of his absence of 
mind in his younger days was probably correct, as he was born im- 
petuous, and ardent, and sincere. But what a change must have 
taken place when we were born ! For his exactness in his accounts, 
in his manuscripts, in his bureau, etc., equalled my uncle's. Not in 
his dress, indeed ; for my mother said, if she did not watch over him, 
he might have put on an old for a new -coat, and marched out. Such 
was his power of abstraction, that he could read and compose with 
his children in the room, and visitors talking around him. He was 
near forty when he married, and had eight children, of whom we 
were the youngest. So kind and amiable a character in domestic life 
can scarcely be imagined. The tenderness he showed in every weak- 
ness, and the sympathy in every pain, would fill sheets to describe. 
But I am not writing his eulogy ; only I must add, with so warm a 
temper, he never was heard to speak an angry word to a servant, or 
known to strike a child in anger; and he knew no guile!" [Charles 
Wesley, D. D., chaplain to the queen," is his grandson. — T. 0. S.] 
* Whitehead's Life. 


has been the* effect produced by his superior compositions. 
The clear and decisive character of the religious experience 
which they describe; their force, and life, and earnestness; 
commended them, at the first, to the piety of the societies, 
and, through that, insensibly elevated the judgment of thour 
sands, who otherwise might have relished, as strongly as 
others, the rudeness of the old version of the Psalms, the 
lameness of the new, and the tinsel metaphors and vapid sen- 
timentalisms which disfigure numerous compositions of differ- 
ent authors, in most collections of hymns in use. It would 
seem, indeed, from the very small number of really good 
psalms and hymns, which are adapted to public worship and 
the use of religious societies, that s this branch of sacred poetry 
has not been very successfully cultivated ; and that the com- 
bination of genius, judgment, and taste, requisite to produce 
them, is very rarely found. Germany is said to be more 
abundant in good hymns than England; and some of the 
most excellent of the Wesleyan hymns are imitations of Ger- 
man hymns admirably versified. But in our language the 
number is small. »Hymns, indeed, abounding in sweet 
thoughts, though often feebly expressed, and such as may be 
used profitably in the closet or the family circle, are not so 
rare. But the true sacred lyric, suited for public worship, 
and the select assemblies of the devout, is as scarce as it is 
valuable. From the rustic rhyming of Sternhold and Hop- 
kins, to the psalms and hymns of Dr. Watts, the advance 
was indeed unspeakably great. A few, however, only of the 
latter, in comparison of the whole number, are unexception- 
able throughout. When they are so, they leave nothing to 
be desired; but many of Dr. Watts's compositions begin well, 
often nobly, and then fall off into dulness and puerility; and 
not a few are utterly worthless, as being poor in thought, and 
still more so in expression. The piety and sweetness of 
Doddridge's hymns must be felt ; but they are often verbose 
and languid, and withal faulty and affected in their metaphors. 
The Olney collection has many delightful hymns for private 
use; but they are far from being generally fit for the public 
services of religion, and are often in bad taste; not even ex- 
cepting many of Cowper's. This may be spoken without 
irreverence; for the greatest poets have not proved the best 
hymn-makers. Milton made but one tolerable psalm; and 


still more modern poets of note have not fully redeemed the 
credit of their class. The fact seems to be, that when the 
mind is opulent in sentiment and imagery, those qualities 
are usually infused into sacred song .in too large proportions. 
Sentiment and genuine religious feeling are things quite dis- 
tinct, and seldom harmonize; at .least, though they may 
sometimes approach to the verge of each other, they will not 
amalgamate; and exuberance of metaphor is inconsistent 
with strong and' absorbing devotion, and proves too artificial 
to express the natural language of the heart. The talent 
of correct and vigorous versification is, for these reasons, 
more likely to produce the true "spiritual song" than 
luxuriance of imagination and great creative genius, provided 
the requisite theological and devotional qualities be also pre- 
sent. A hymn suitable for social worship ought to be terse 
and vigorous; and it is improved when every verse closes 
with a sense so full and pointed, as frequently to make some 
approach to the character of the ancient epigram ; or, as 
Mr.. Montgomery has Jiappily expressed it, " each stanza 
should be a poetical tune, played down to the last note." 
The meaning ought also to be so obvious as to be compre- 
hended at once, that men may speak to God directly, without 
being distracted by investigating the real meaning of the 
words put into their lips. And when metaphor is efficiently 
employed, it must be generally such as the Scriptures have 
already sanctioned; for with their imagery we are all familiar, 
and it stands consecrated to the service of the sanctuary by in- 
spired authority. Yet even this ought not to be adopted in 
an extended form, approaching to allegory; and is always 
more successful when rather lightly touched and suggested, 
than when dwelt upon with particularity. Cowper's fine hymn 
on Providence is greatly improved by omitting the stanza : 

" His purposes will ripen fast, 
Unfolding every hour : 
The bud may have a bitter taste, 
But sweet will be the flower." 

This figure is not only not found in sacred inspired poetry, 
but it has too much prettiness to be the vehicle of a sublime 
thought; and the verse has moreover the fault of an absurd 


antithesis, a*s well as a false rhyme. Many modern hymns are, 
indeed, as objectionable from the character of their imagery, 
as from the meagreness of their thoughts; and there are a 
few somewhat popular, which, leaving out or changing a few 
sacred terms, would chime agreeably enough to the most 
common sentimental subjects. 

To Dr. Watts and to Mr. Charles Wesley the largest share of 
gratitude is due, in modern times, from the Churches of 
Christ, for that rich supply of "psalms and hymns and spirit- 
ual songs," in which the assemblies of the pious mayunake 
melody unto the Lord, in strains which " angels might often 
delight to hear." No others are to be named with these 
sweet singers of the spiritual Israel; and it is probable that 
through the medium of their verse, chiefly, will the devotions 
of our churches be poured forth till time shall be no more. 
No other poets ever attained such elevation as this. They 
honored Grod in their gifts, and God has thus honored them 
to be the mouth of his people to him, in their solemn assem- 
blies, in their private devotions, and in the struggles of death 

It would be an unprofitable task to compare the merits of 
these two great psalmists. Each had excellences not found 
in the other. Watts, however, excels Mr. Charles Wesley 
only in the sweeter flow of his numbers, and in the feeling 
and sympathy of those of his hymns which are designed to 
administer comfort to the afflicted. In composition, he was, 
in all respects, decidedly his inferior — in good taste, classic 
elegance, uniformity, correct rhyming, and vigor. As to the 
theology of their respective hymns, leaving particular doc- 
trines out of the question, the great truths of religious expe- 
rience are also far more clearly and forcibly embodied by Mr. 
Charles Wesley than by Dr. Watts. Most justly does Mr. 
John Wesley say of the " Collection of Hymns for the use of 
the people called Methodists/' of which only a few are his 
own, and almost all" the rest from the pen of Mr. Charles 
Wesley — "In these hymns there is no doggerel, no botches, 
nothing put in to patch up the rhyme, no feeble expletives. 
Here is nothing turgid or bombastic on the one hand, or low 
and creeping on the other. Here are no cant expressions, no 
words without meaning. Here are (allow me to say) both the 


purity, the strength, and the elegance of the English lan- 
guage;- and, at the same time, the utmost simplicity and 
plainness, suited to every capacity."* 

* Io this collection, "besides a few hymns by Mr. John Wesley, there 
are seven from Dr. Watts., -Several are translations by the Wesleys ; 
one from the Spanish, '/ God, my God, my all thou art,"' etc. ; one 
from the French, "Come, Saviour Jesus, from above,;" and the others 
from the German hymns of the. Lutheran and Moravian Churches. 
Several of these translated hymns Mr. Montgomery has inserted in 
his 4 : Psalmist," and marked "Moravian." They appear, indeed, in 
the Moravian Hymn-book ; but in departments there in which are 
also found the hymns of Dr. Watts and other English authors. The 
preface of the edition of 1754, the first authorized collection of 
the English Moravians, and which embodies their former unauthor- 
ized publications, acknowledges "the foregoing labors of Mr. Jacobi 
and the Rev. Mr. Wesley" in the translation of German hymns of the 
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, besides extracts of English ones 
of the eighteenth, from "Watts, Stennett, Davis, Erskine, Wesley," 
etc. ; which acknowledgment was no doubt overlooked by Mr. Mont- 
gomery. The hymns translated by the Wesleys, and said by Mr. 
Montgomery in his collection to be " Moravian," are, " Thou hidden 
love of God, whose height;" "Thee will I love, my strength, my 
tower ;" " Shall I for fear of feeble man ;" "0 thou who earnest from 
above;" "Now I have found the ground wherein;" "My soul before 
thee prostrate lies;" and, " Holy Lamb, who thee receive." Now, all 
these were published by the Wesleys before the Moravian Hymn-book 
of 1754, in which the "foregoing labors of Mr. Wesley," in translat- 
ing from the German, aro acknowledged ; and, indeed, most of them 
appear in the very first hymn-books published by John and Charles 
Wesley, two of which bear date so early as L739, fifteen years pre- 
vious to the publication of the authorized Moravian collection. As 
translations, they are not, therefore, "Moravian;" and, when they 
are translated from "the German," it does not follow that they all 
have a Moravian original, though some of them may ; for the Mora- 
vian German book, like the English, as we learn from the preface to 
their English Hymn-book, "consists as well of hymns out of preced- 

is a Moravian German hymn ; but the translation is by Mr. Charles 
Wesley; whilst "Give to the winds thy fears," also marked Moravian, 
is a German hymn of the Lutheran Church, and the translation is, I 
believe, Mr. C. Wesley's. Of this hymn there is a version in the Mo- 
ravian English Hymn-book; the last stanza of which, when placed 
beside Mr. C. Wesley's, will show with what strength of internal evi- 
dence his translations distinguish themselves : 



Few persons ever wrote so much poetry of the saered and 
devotional kind as Mr. Charles Wesley. It amounts to 
forty-four distinct publications of different sizes, from the 

Wesley's. Moravian. 

Thou seest our weakness, Lord, Lord, thou seest our weakness, 
Our hearts are known to thee: Yet knowest what our hearts mean; 

lift thou up the sinking hand, Against desponding slackness 
Confirm the feeble knee! Our feeble'knees sustain. 

Let us in life and death Till, and beyond death's valley, 
Thy steadfast truth declare; Let us thy trutli declare; 

And publish with pur latest breath Yea, then emphatically 
Thy love and guardian" care. Boast of thy guardian care. 

Some other comparisons might be made between translations from 
German hymns by the Wesleys, and those from the same originals 
found in the Moravian Hymn-book, which would sufficiently show that 
the Moravians, then at least, had no translator into English verse at 
all comparable to them ; and, indeedj they had sufficient taste gen- 
erally to adopt their translations in preference. But this is no reason 
why they should lose the credit of their own admirable performances 
in this department. Respect to literary justice has drawn out this 
note to so great a length ; and it was the more necessary to state the 
matter correctly,. because Mr. Montgomery's "Psalmist" might in fu- 
ture mislead. The first editions of the Hymns and Sacred Poems by 
the Wesleys, namely, those of 1739, 1743, and 1745, in which most 
of the above hymns are found, with several others in the Moravian 
Hymn-book, are now become scarce, and in a few years may not be 
forthcoming to correct the error. For this reason it may also be 
noticed, that Mr. Montgomery has inserted in his collection several 
hymns by Charles Wesley as the composition of "authors unknown." 
These, too, are found in' the early editions of the Wesley Hymns and 
Poems, and in some later ones; as, "Come let us who in Christ be- 
lieve;" "Come, thou all-victorious Lord;" "Fountain of being, 
Source of good;" "God of my life, whose gracious power;" "Jesus, 
my strength, my hope;" "Jesus, the name high over all;" "Leader 
of faithful souls, and guide;" "0 that thou wouldst the heavens 
rent;" "Spirit of truth, come down;" "Thee, "my God and King;" 
"Thy ceaseless, unexhausted love;" "When quiet in my house I 
sit;" and a few others. "Ye virgin souls arise," another of Charles 
Wesley's hymns, is ascribed to Dr. Doddridge. There are two ways 
of accounting for Mr. Montgomery's want of information as to these 
hymns — that he was not in possession of the early editions of hymns 
published by John and Charles Wesley ; and that some of the hymns 
in the hymn-book in use amongst us, which he has N ascribed to au- 
thors unknown, are parts of longer hymns, and were selected by Mr. 
John Wesley from his brother's poetry, sometimes from the middle or 
end of a piece, so that the first lines would not be found in the old 
indexes when consulted. Mr. Charles Wesley's hymns have not been 
unfrequently claimed for others, without any design to be unjust. 


duodecimo volume to tlie pamphlet of one or two sheets. 
Besides what is published, several thick quarto* volumes of 
poetry iu MS. remain, chiefly consisting of brief illustrations 
or paraphrases of the leading texts in the Gospels and Acts 

of the Apostles, and not inferior to his " Short Hymns on the 


In the Christian Observer, a few years ago, that exquisite produc- 
tion of one of his happiest moments, "Jesus, lover of my soul," 
was assigned to Mrs. Madan, although published by Mr.. Charles 
Wesley in the year 1743 ; and the translation from the French, 
"Come, Saviour Jesus, from above," is found in the Poetical Works 
of Dr. John Byrom, published in 1773, although it appears in the Wes- 
ley " Hymns and Poems" of 1739. The probability is, that a copy 
of it was found among Byrom's papers, and so the editor of his Poems 
concluded it to be his. In Rippon's Selection at least twenty-eight 
of the Wesley hymns are inserted as, anonymous. This has happened 
in" many other collections ; and, besides, they have often been greatly 
mutilated. A correct list of the different editions of the Hymns and 
Sacred Poems published by the Wesleys will be found in the last 
volume of Wesley's Works, recently, completed. The editions of 
1739 are scarce; and it ought to be noticed, that there are two dis- 
tinct works published under the same title of " Hymns and Sacred 
Poems," each bearing that date. The Hymn-book now in use was 
compiled by Mr. John Wesley out of the preceding hymn-books, of 
different sizes and editions, and from his brother's " Festival Hymns," 
"Scripture Hymns," etc. The whole underwent his severe criticism, 
and he abridged and corrected them with a taste and judgment which 
greatly increased their value. How many of the above-mentioned 
translations from the German were from the pen of John, and how 
many were by Charles, will never now probably be ascertained, since 
they appear chiefly in books published in their joint names. Some- 
have,* Indeed, attributed the whole of the translations from the Ger- 
man to John, as supposing that Charles did not well understand Ger- 
man. But of this we have no decisive evidence; and even were it so, 
he might turn the ruder translations in the Moravian Hymn-book, 
which are generally very literal, into his own superior verse ; or the 
sense of any hymn might bo given by his brother. Certainly there is 
internal evidence in many of the translations from the German, pub- 
lished by the Wesleys, of Charles's manner. John's versions are 
generally more polished and elegant; Charles had more fire, and was 
more careless. Miss Wesley, indeed, in a note to page. 340, vol. xiv., 
of Wesley's Works, is said by the editor to have been of opinion that 
the translated hymns, when from the German, were all from the pen 
of her uncle ; but they had long been published before she was born, 
and she always spoke on the subject as a matter of opinion, and not 
as grounded on any explicit information which she had ever sought, 
or had ever received, from her father. [They are attributed to John 
in the Hymn-book of the M. E. Church, South.— T. 0. 8.] 


chief passages of the Old and New Testaments/' which have 
passed through several editions.* A few of his poems are 
playful, a few others are keenly satirical. He satirized his 
brother's ordinations, and the preachers; but, High-Church- 
man as he was, he was very unsparing in the use of his poetic 
whip upon the persecuting and irreligious clergy. Of this, 
some of his published, and several of his unpublished, para- 
phrases on passages of the Gospels, and the* Acts of the 
Apostles, in which the persecuting deeds of the scribes and 
Pharisees are recorded, afford some caustic specimens ;"j" and 
sufficiently indicate that he did not bear the contumely and 
opposition of his High-Church brethren with the equanimity 
and gentleness of his brother John, tie also took a part in 
the Calvinistic controversy, by writing his " Hymns or Poems 
on God's universal love." But by far the greater ^part of his 

[* An interesting relic, not known to Mr. Watson, has recently been 
brought to light : an autograph volume, containing a poetical version 
of nearly the whole book of Psalms, by Charles Wesley, presented by 
him to Lady Huntingdon. This, with other versions of Psalms, scat- 
tered through the poetical works of the Wesleys, has been recently 
published by the. Methodist Episcopal Church, South, under the -style 
of " The Wesleyan Psalter" — a most charming volume. — T. 0. S.] 

f As almost all the family were poets, so they were all character- 
ized by a vein of satire. This they appear to have inherited from 
their father, whose wit was both ready and pungent. The following 
is an instance copied from the Gentleman's Magazine, for ( the year 

" The authenticity of the following extempore grace by the Rev. 
Samuel Wesley, (father of the Rev. John, ) formerly rector of Epworth, 
may be relied on. It is- given on the authority of the late William 
Barnard, Esq., of Gainsborough, whose father, the preserver of John 
from the fire of 1707, was present at the time it was spoken, at Temple 
Belwood, after dinner. Mr. P., at whose house they dined, was a 
strange compound of avarice and oddity ; many of his singularities 
are still remembered : 

' Thanks for this feast, for 'tis no less 
Than eating manna in the wilderness; 
Here meagre Famine bears controlless sway, 
And ever drives each fainting wretch away. 
Yet here, (0 how beyond a saint's belief!) 
We 've seen the glories of a chine of beef! 
Here chimneys smoke, which never smoked before. 
And we have dined where we shall dine no more ' " 

The design of this odd extemporaneous effusion, we are bound to 
laelieve, was not to indulge in a levity, but to convey a useful reproof 


poetry was consecrated to promote the work of God in the 
heart Never were its different branches, from the first 
awakening of the soul out of the sleep of sin, to its state of 
perfectecTholiDess, with all its intermediate conflicts and exer- 
cises, more justly or scripturally expressed; and there is, per- 
hups, no uninspired book from which, as to " the deep things 
of God," so much is to be learned, as from his Hymn-book 
in use in the Methodist congregations. The funeral hymns 
in this collection have but little .of the softness of sorrow- 
perhaps too little; but they are written in that fulness of 
faith which exclaims over the open tomb, " Thanks be to God, 
who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ/' 
The hymns on the last day are characterized also by the same 
unflinching faith, which, rejoicing in the smile of the Judge, 
defies the wild uproar of elements, and the general conflagra- 
tion itself. In several of these, Mr. Charles Wesley has ad- 
mirably Christianized the "just man" of Horace, dreadless 
amidst the ruins of a world : 

" Sifractus illabatur orbis 

Irupavidum ferient ruince ;" 

placing the same fine thought in various aspects, and illus- 
trating it by different circumstances. ^His hymns of invita- 
tion are sweet and persuasive; and those on justification by 
faith, admirably illustrative of that important doctrine. Of 
the value set upon this Hymn-book by the Methodist congre- 
gations, this is a sufficient proof, that above sixty thousand 
copies are sold yearly in the United Kingdom alone.* The 
number in the United States of America must be considerably 

* As the number of hymns in this book, adapted for mixed congre- 
gations and festival occasions, was not thought sufficient, a supple- 
ment is now added, containing a considerable number of hymns by Mr. 
Charles Wesley, and by other authors. Some of the best hymns he 
ever wrote are found in this smaller collection, chiefly on the Festi- 

[f The sale has been very great since 1847, when the Hymn-book of 
the M. E. Church, South, was published. In the compilation of this 
volume, nearly all the old hymn-books of the Wcslcys were laid under 
contribution, the original form of many hymns which had been muti- 
lated was restored, and not a few that had been attributed to other 
writers were verified as Mr. Wesley's, and accredited accordingly. 

302 THE life or 

With reference to his brothers poetry, a remark is inci- 
dentally and somewhat oddly introduced, by Mr. Wesley, in 
his Journal of 1790, January 28 : 

" I retired to Peckham, and at leisure hours read part of a 
very pretty trifle, the Life of Mrs. Bellamy. Surely never 
did any, since John Dryden, study more 

' To make vice pleasing, and damnation shine,' 

than this lively and elegant writer. She has a fine imagina- 
tion, a strong understanding, an easy style, improved by much 
reading; a fine, benevolent temper, and every qualification 
that could consist with a total ignorance of God; but God was 
not in all her thoughts. Abundance of auecdotes she inserts, 
which may be true or false. One of them concerning Mr. 
Ga*rrick is curious. She says, ' When he was taking ship 
for England, a lady presented him with* a parcel, which she 
desired him not to open till he was at sea. When he did, he 
found Wesley's Hymns, which he immediately threw over-, 
board.' I cannot believe it. I think Mr. G. had more sense. 
He knew my brother well. And he knew him to be not 
only far superior in learning, but in poetry, to Mr. Thomson, 
and all his theatrical writers put together. None of them can 
equal him, either in strong nervous sense, or purity and ele- 
gance of language. The musical compositions of his sons are 
not more excellent than the poetical, ones of their father.'' 

The last end of the truly venerable John Wesley was now 
also approaching. He was on his regular pastoral visit to 
Ireland, when he entered his eighty-seventh year, on which 
he remarks in his Journal : " This day I enter on my eighty- 
seventh year. I now find I grow old. 1. My sight is de- 
cayed, so that I cannot read a small print, unless in a strong 
light. 2. My strength is decayed, so that I walk much 
slower than I did some years since. 8. My memory-of names, 

Some that were not published in his lifetime were also introduced 
into that collection. Since its appearance, the Northern Methodists 
have published a new hymn-book, in which, however, many of the 
Wesleyan hymns appear in an altered form. Other Methodist bodies 
in the United States have published hymn-books, constituted, for the 
most part, of Wesleyan hymns ; many of which, moreover, ark found 
in the hymn-books of;.other denominations. — T. 0. S.] 


whether of persons or places, is decayed, till I stop a little to 
recollect them. What I should be afraid of is, if I took 
thought for the morrow, that my body should weigh down 
my mind, and create either stubbornness, by the decrease of 
my understanding, or peevishness, by the increase of bodily 
infirmities; but thou shall? answer for me, Lord my God 1" 

Nobly superior to these infirmities, we find him still acting 
under the impression, " I must be about my Father's 'busi- 
ness. " Although, in comparison of his former rapidity of 
movement, he crept rather than ran, it was still in the same 
ceaseless course of service. After holding the Irish Confer- 
ence in Dublin, and the English Conference at Leeds, in 
August he returned to London; from thence he set out to 
Bristol, and proceeded .on his usual tour through the west of 
England, and Cornwall. Notwithstanding his regular visits 
to Cornwall, he appears, from some reason, . never to have 
turned* aside to Falmouth, since the time of his preaching 
there forty years .before, when he met with so violent a re-' 
ception. He now paid that place a visit, and remarks : " The 
last time I was here, about forty years ago, I was taken pri- 
soner by an immense mob, gaping and roaring like lions; but 
how is the tide turned ! High and low now lined the streets 
from one end of the town to the other, out of stark love and 
kindness, gaping and staring as if the king were going by. 
In the evening I preached on the smooth top of the hill, at a 
small distance from the sea, to the largest congregation I have 
ever seen in Cornwall, except in or near Redruth ; and such 
a time I have not known before since I returned from Ire- 
land. God moved wonderfully on the hearts of the people, 
who all seemed to know the day of their visitation." 

From Cornwall he returned by way of Bristol and Bath to 
London. In the early part of the next year, we find him 
again at Bristol; from whence he proceeded, preaching at 
several of the intermediate towns, to Birmingham ; and from 
thence through Staffordshire 'to Madeley, where we find the 
following affecting entry in his Journal : 

"At nine I preached to a select congregation on the deep 
things of God; and in the evening on, 'He is able to save 
unto the uttermost all them that come unto God through him.' 
Friday, 26. I finished my sermon on the ' Wedding Garment;' 
perhaps the last that I shall write. My eyes are now waxed 

304 THE LIFE or 

dim. My natural force is abated. However, while I can, I 
would fain do a little for God, before I drop into the dust." 

The societies in Cheshire, Lancashire, and the north of 
England, once more, and for the last, time, saw the man to 
whom, under God, they owed their religious existence. On 
his return southward, he passed through the East Riding of 
Yorkshire, to, Hull; preaching in every place as on the brink 
of eternity. He also visited Epworth, and various parts of 
Lincolnshire; and, upon attaining his- eighty-eighth year, 
lias the following reflections : 

" This day I enter into my eighty-eighth year. For above 
eighty-six years I found none of the infirmities of old age : 
my eyes did not wax dim, neither was my natural strength 
abated ; but last August I found almost a. sudden change : 
my eyes were so dim that no glasses would help me : my 
strength, likewise, now quite forsook me, and probably will 
not return in this world ; but I feel no pain from head to 
foot ; only, it seems, nature is exhausted, and, humanly 
speaking, will sink more and more, till 

' The weary springs of life stand still at last.' " 


"This," says Dr. Whitehead, "at length was literally the 
case : the death of Mr. Wesley, like that' of his brother 
Charles, being one of those rare instances in which nature, 
drooping under the load' of years, siuks by a gentle decay. 
For several years preceding his death, this decay was, per- 
haps, more visible to others than to himself, particularly by 
a more frequent disposition to sleep during the day, by a 
growing defect in memory, a faculty he once possessed in a 
high degree of perfection, and by a general diminution of the 
vigor and agility he had so long enjoyed. His labors, how- 
ever, suffered little interruption ; and when the summons 
came, it found him, as he always wished it should, in the 
harness, still occupied in his Master's work Y' 

Still his Journal records his regular visitation of the prin- 
cipal places where societies existed, and exhibits the same 
variety and raciness of remark on men and books, and) other 
subjects; although writing must, at that time, have become 
exceedingly difficult to him from the failure of his sight. 
This most interesting record of unparalleled labors "in the 


gospel" was, for this reason, it is presumed, discontinued, 
and closes on Sunday, October 24tE, 1790, when he states 
that he preached twice at Spitalfields church. He continued, 
however, during the autumn and winter, to visit various 
places till February, continually praying, " Lord, let me not 
live to be useless." The following account of his last days 
is taken from the memoir prefixed to the edition of his works 
by the Rev. Joseph Benson, and is there inserted as a proper 
close to his Journal r 

" He preached, as usual, in different places in London and 
its vicinity, generally meeting the society after preachirfg in 
each place, and exhortkig them to love as brethren, to fear 
God, and honor - the king; which he, wished them to con- 
sider as his 'last advice. He then usually, if not invariably, 
concluded with giving out that verse : 

' that, without a lingering groan, 

I may the welcome word receive ; 
My body with my charge lay down, 
And cease at once to work and live.' 

" He proceeded in this way till the usual time of his leav- 
ing London approached, when, with a view to take his ac- 
customed journey through' Ireland or Scotland, he sent his 
chaise and horses before him to Bristol, and took places for 
himself and his friend in the Bath coach. But his mind, 
with all its vigor, could no longer uphold his worn-out and 
sinking body. Its powers ceased, although by slow and al- 
most imperceptible degrees, to perform their sundry offices, 
until, as he often expressed himself, 

' The weary wheels of life stood still at last.' 

"Thursday, February 17, 1791, he preached at Lambeth; 
but, on his return, seemed much indisposed, and said he 
had taken cold. The next day, however, he read and wrote 
as usual ; and in the evening preached at Chelsea, from, ' The 
King's business requireth haste/ although with some difficulty, 
having a high degree of fever upon him. Indeed, he was 
obliged to stop once or twice, informing the people that his 
cold so affected his voice as to prevent his speaking without 
those necessary pauses. On Saturday he still persevered in 

306 THE LIFE or 

his usual employments, though, to those about him, his com- 
plaints seemed evidently increasing. He dined at Islington ; 
and at dinner desired a friend to read to him four chapters 
out of the book of Job; namely, from the fourth .to the 
seventh, inclusive. On Sunday he rose early, according to 
custom ; but quite unfit for any of his usual Sabbath-day's 
exercises. At seven o'clock he was obliged to lie down, and 
slept between three and four hours. When he awoke, he 
said, ' I have not had such a comfortable sleep this fortnight 
past.' In the afternoon he lay down again, and slept an 
hour t)r two. Afterward, two of his own discourses on our 
Lord's Sermon on the Mount were read to him, and in the 
evening he came down to supper. 

"Monday, 21st, he seemed much better; and, though his 
friends tried to dissuade him from it, he would keep an en- 
gagement, made some time before, to dine at Twickenham. 
In his way thither, he called on Lady Mary Fitzgerald. The 
conversation was truly profitable, and well became a last visit. 
On Tuesday he went on with his usual work; preached in the- 
evening at the chapel in the City Road, and seemed much 
better than he had been for some days. On Wednesday he 
went to Leatherhead, and preached to a small company on, 
1 Seek ye the Lord while he may be found ; call ye upon him 
while he is near.' This proved to be his last sermon. Here 
ended the public labors of this great minister of Jesus 
Christ. On Thursday he paid a visit to Mr. Wolff's family 
at Balham ; where he was cheerful, and seemed nearly as well 
as usual, till Friday, about breakfast time, when he grew very 
heavy. About eleven o'clock he returned home, extremely 
ill. His friends were struck with the .manner of his getting 
out of the carriage, and still more with his apparent weakness 
when he went up stairs and sat down in his chair. He now 
desired to be left alone, and not to be interrupted by any one, 
for half an hour. When that time was expired, some mulled 
wine was brought him, of which he drank a little. In a few 
minutes he threw it up, and said, ' I must lie down.' His 
friends were now alarmed, and Dr. Whitehead was imme- 
diately sent for. On his entering the room, he said, in a 
cheerful voice, 'Doctor, they are more afraid than hurt.' 
Most of this day he lay in bed, had a quick pulse, with a con- 
siderable degree of fever and stupor. And Saturday, 26th, 


he continued in much the same state; taking very little, 
either of medicine or nourishment. 

"Sunday morning he seemed much better, got up, and 
took a cup of tea. Sitting in his chair, he. looked quite 
cheerful ; and repeated the Litter part of the verse, in his 
brother Charles's Scripture Hymns, on, ' Forsake" me not when 
my strength faileth ;' namely : 

' Till glad. I lay this body down, 
Thy servant, Lord, attend ; 
And, ! my life of mercy crown 
With a triumphant end.' 

Soon after, in a most emphafical manner, he said, 'Our 
friend Lazarus sleepeth.' Exerting himself to converse 
with some friends, he was soon fatigued, and obliged to lie 
down. After lying quiet some time, he looked up, and said, 
* Speak to me ; I cannot speak.' On which, one of the com- 
pany said, 'Shall we pray with you, sir?' He earnestly 
replied, ' Yes.' And while they prayed, his whole soul 
seemed engaged with God for an answer, and his hearty 
Amen showed that he perfectly .understood what was said. 
About half an hour after, he said, l There is no need of more. 
When at Bristol my words were : 

I the chief of sinner am ; 
But Jesus died for me.'* 

* At the Bristol Conference, in 1783, Mr. Wesley was taken very 
ill : neither he nor his friends thought he could recover. From the 
nature of his complaint, he supposed a spasm would sey:e his 
stomach, nnd probably occasion sudden death.- Under these views of 
his situation, he said to Mr. Bradford, "I have been reflecting on my 
ji:i-t life; I have been wandering up and down, between fifty and 
Mxty years, endeavoring, in my poor way, to do a little good to my 
fellow-creatures. And now it is probable that there are but a few 
steps between me and death ; and what have I to trust to for salva- 
tion ? I can see nothing which I have done or suffered that will bear 
looking at. I have no other plea than this : 

'I the chief of sinners am; 
But Jessus dred for me.'" 

The sentiment here expressed, and his reference to it in his last sick- 
ness, plainly show how steadily he had persevered in the same views 
of the gospel. 


" One .said, ' Is this the present language of your heart ? 
And do you now feel as you did then V He replied, ' Yes.' 
When the same person repeated, 

' Bold I approach th' eternal throne, 
And claim the crown,'through Christ, my own;' 

and added, *'Tis enough. He, our precious Immanuel, has 
purchased, has promised, all ;' he earnestly replied, ' He is 
all ! He is all !' After this the fever was very high, and, at 
times, affected his recollection ; but even then^ though his 
head was subject to a temporary derangement, his heart 
seemed wholly engaged in his Master's work. In the even- 
ing he got up again • and, while sitting in his chair, he said, 
' How necessary it is for every one to be on the right founda- 
tion ! 

I the chief of sinners am ; 
But Jesus died for me !' 

"Monday, 28th, his weakness increased. He slept most 
of the day, and spoke but little; yet that little testified how 
much his whole heart was taken up in the care of the socie- 
ties, the glory of Grod, and the promotion of the things per- 
taining to that kingdom to which he was hastening., Once 
he said, in a low but distinct manner, i There is no way into 
the holiest, but by the hlood of Jesus.' He afterwards in- 
quired what the words were from which he had preached a 
little before at Hampstead. Being told they were these — 
' Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though 
he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye 
through his poverty might be rich;' he replied, ' That is the 
foundation, the only foundation. There is no other.' This 
day Dr. Whitehead desired he might be asked if he would 
have any other physician called in to attend him ; but this 
he absolutely refused. It is remarkable that he suffered 
very little pain, never complaining of any during his illness, 
but once of a pain in his left breast. This was a restless 
night. Tuesday morning he sang two verses of a hymn. 
Then, lying still, as if to recover strength, he called for pen 
and ink ; but when they were brought, he could not write. 
A person said, 'Let me write for you, sir. Tell me what 
jou would say.' He replied, < Nothing, but that God is with 


us.' In the forenoon he said, "I will get up.' While 
they were preparing his clothes, he broke Jbxxt in a manner 
which, considering his extreme weakness, astonished all pre- 
sent, in singing : 

' I'll praise my Maker while I've breath ; 
And when my taice is lost in death, 

Praise shall employ my« nobler powers : 
My days of praise shall ne'er be past, 
While life, and thought, and being last, 

Or immortality endures !' 

" Having got him into his chair, they observed him 
change for death. But h&, regardless of his dying body, 
said, with a weak voice, 'Lord, thou givest strength'to those 
that can speak, and to those who cannot. Speak, Lord, 
to all our hearts, and let them know that .thou loosest 
tongues.' He then sang : 

' To Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, 
Who sweetly all agree,' — 

Here his voice failed. After gasping for breath, he said, 
'Now we have done all.' He was then laid in the bed, from 
which he rose no more. After resting; a little, he called to 
those who were with him to ' pray and praise/ They kneeled 
down, and the room seemed to be filled with the Divine pre- 
sence. A little after, he said, ' Let me be buried in nothing 
bat what is woollen, and let my corpse be carried into the 
chapel.' Then, as if he had done with all below, he again 
begged they would pray and praise. Several friends that 
were in the house being called up, they all kneeled down 
again to prayer, at which time his. fervor of spirit was mani- 
fest to every, one present. But, in particular parts of the 
prayer, his whole soul seemed to be engaged in a manner 
which evidently showed how ardently he longed for the full 
accomplishment of their united desires. And when one of 
the preachers was praying in a very expressive manner, that 
if God were about to take away their father to his eternal 
rest, he would be pleased to continue and increase his bless- 
ing upon the doctrine and discipline which he had long made 
his servant the means of propagating and establishing in the 
world, such a degree of fervor accompanied his loud Amen, 
as was every way expressive of his soul's being engaged in 


the answer df the petitions. On rising from their knees, he 
took hold of all their hands, and, with the utmost placiduess, 
saluted them, and said, i Farewell, farewell.' 

"A little after, a person coming in, he strove to, speak, but 
could not. Fin'ding they could not understand him, he 
paused a little, and then, with all the remaining strength he 
had, cried out, ' The best of all is, God is with us;' and soon 
after, lifting up his dying arm in token of victory, and raising 
his feeble voice with a holy triumph not to be expressed, he 
again repeated the heart-reviving words, 'The best of all is, 
God is with us/ Being told that his brother's widow was 
come, he said, 'He giveth his servants rest.' He thanked 
her, as she pressed his hand, and affectionately endeavored 
to kiss her. On his lips being wetted, he said, 'We thank 
thee, Lord, for these and all thy mercies. Bless the Church 
and King; and grant us truth and peace, through Jesus 
Christ our Lord, for ever and ever !' At another time he 
said, ' He causeth his servants to lie down in peace.' Then, 
pausing a little, he cried, 'The clouds drop fatness!' and 
soon after, 'The Lord- is with us, the God of Jacob is our 
refuge!' He then called those present to prayer; and, 
though he was greatly exhausted, he appeared still more fer- 
vent in spirjt. These exertions were, however, too much for 
Lis feeble frame; and most of the night following, though he 
often attempted to repeat the psalm before mentioned, he 
could only utter, 

'I'll praise — I'll praise !' 

"On Wednesday morning, the closing scene, drew near. 
Mr. Bradford, his faithful friend, prayed with him, and the 
last words he was heard to articulate were, ' Farewell !' A 
few minutes before ten, while several of his friends were 
kneeling around his bed, without a lingering groan, this man 
of God, this beloved pastor of thousands, entered into the 
joy of his Lord. 

" He was in the eighty-eighth year of his age, had been 
sixty-five years in the ministry ; and the preceding pages will 
be a lasting memorial of his uncommon zeal, diligence, and 
usefulness, in his Master's work, for more than half a century. 
His death was an admirable close to so laborious and useful a 


"At the desire of many of his friends, his corpse was 
placed in the New chapel, and remained tljere the day before 
his interment. His face during that time had a heavenly 
smile upon it, and a beauty which was admired by all that 
saw it. 

tl March the 9th was the day appointed for his interment. 
The preachers then in London requested that Dr. Whitehead 
should deliver the funeral discourse; and the executors after- 
wards approved of the appointment. The intention was to 
carry the corpse into the chapel, and place it in a raised situa- 
tion before the pulpit during the service. But the crowds 
which came to see the body while it lay in the coffin, both in 
the private house, and especially in the chapel, the day before 
his funeral, were so great, that his friends were apprehensive 
of a tumult, if they should adopt the plan first intended. It 
was therefore resolved, the evening before, to bury him be- 
tween five and six in the morning. Though the time of 
notice to his friends was short, and the design itself was spoken 
of with great caution, yet a considerable number of persons 
attended at that early hour. The late Rev. Mr. Richardson, 
who now lies with him in the same vault, read the funeral 
service in a manner that made it peculiarly affecting. When 
he came to that part of it, ' Forasmuch as It hath pleased 
Almighty God to take unto himself the soul of our dear 
brother,' etc., he substituted, with the most tender emphasis, 
the epithet father, instead of brother, which had so powerful 
an effect on the congregation, that from silent tears they 
seemed universally to. burst out into loud weeping. 



Olim Soc. Coll. Lin. Oxon. 

Ob. 2do. die Martii, 1791. 

An. JRt. 88.* 

"The discourse, by. Dr. Whitehead, was delivered in the 
chapel, at the hour appointed in the forenoon, to an astonish- 

* "John Wesley, Master of Arts, formerly Fellow of Lincoln Col- 
lege, Oxford, died on the second day of March, 1791, in the eighty- 
eighth year of his age." 


ing multitude«of people; among whom were many ministers 
of the gospel, both of the Establishment and Dissenters. The 
audience was still and solemn as night ; and all seemed to 
carry away with them enlarged views of Mr. Wesley's char- 
acter, and serious impressions of the importance of religion." 
The following is the inscription on the marble tablet, erected 
to his memory, in the chapel, City Road : 

Sacreo to tf)£ Jflemorj) 

Of the Rev. JOHN WESLEY, M. A., 

Sometime Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford; 

A man in Learning and sincere Piety 

Scarcely inferior to any; 

In Zeal, Ministerial Labors, and extensive Usefulness, 

Superior, perhaps, to all. Men, 

Since the days of St. Paul. 

Regardless of Fatigue, personal Danger, and Disgrace, 

He went out into the Highways and Hedges 

Calling Sinners to Repentance, 

And publishing the Gospel of Peace. 

He was the Founder of the Methodist Societies, 

And the chief Promoter and Patron 

Of the Plan of Itinerant Preaching, 

Which he extended through Great Britain and Ireland, 

The West Indies and America, 

With unexampled Success. 

He was born the 17th of June, 1703; 

And died the 2d of March, 1791, 

In sure and certain hope of Eternal Life, 

Through the Atonement and Mediation of a Crucified 


He was sixty-five Years in the Ministry, 

And fifty-two an Itinerant Preacher: 

He lived to see, in these Kingdoms only, 

About three hundred Itinerant, 

.And one thousand Local Preachers, 

Raised up from the midst of his own People; 

And eighty thousand Persons in the Societies under his care. 


His Name will be ever had in grateful Remembrance 

By all who rejoice in the universal Spread 

Of the Gospel of Christ. 

Soli Deo Gloria. 

It would be superfluous, in closing this account of a man 
at once so extraordinary and so truly great, for me to attempt 
a delineation of his character, since this has been done so 
ably that nothing can easily be added, with good effect. I 
shall therefore insert Dr. Whitehead's own summary, with 
notices by others who were personally acquainted with him. 
Taken together, they transmit au interesting and instructive 
picture of the founder of Methodism to future ages. 

Dr. Whitehead observes : 

" Some persons have affected to insinuate that Mr. "Wesley- 
was a man of slender capacity ; but certainly with great injus- 
tice. His apprehension was clear, his penetration quick, and 
his judgment discriminative and sound; of which his contro- 
versial writings, and his celebrity in the stations he held at 
Oxford, when young, are sufficient proofs. In governing a 
large body of preachers and people, of various habits, inter- 
ests, and priqciples, with astonishing calmness and regularity- 
for many years, he showed a strong and capacious mind, that 
could comprehend and combine together a vast variety of cir- 
cumstances, and direct their influence through the great body 
he governed. As a scholar, he certainly held a conspicuous 
rank. He was a critic in the Latin and Greek classics; and 
was well acquainted with the Hebrew, and with several 
modern tongues. But the Greek was his favorite language; 
in which his knowledge was extensive and accurate. At col- 
lege, he had studied Euclid, Keill, Sir Isaac Newton's Optics, 
etc. ; but he never entered far into the more abstruse parts, 
or the higher branches, of the mathematics; finding they 
would fascinate his mind, absorb his attention, and divert him 
from the pursuit of the more important objects of his own 

" Natural history was a field in which he walked at every 

opportunity ; and contemplated, with infinite pleasure, the 

wisdom, the power, and the goodness of God, in the structure 

of natural bodies, and in the various instincts and habits of 



the animal creation. But he was obliged to view these won- 
derful works of God in the labors and records of others: his 
various and continual employments of a higher nature not 
permitting him to make experiments and observations for 

"As a writer, Mr. Wesley certainly possessed talents suffi- 
cient to procure him considerable reputation. But he did not 
write for fame : his object was chiefly to instruct and benefit 
that numerous class of people who have little learning, little 
money, and but little time to spare for reading. In all his 
writings he constantly kept these circumstances in view. 
Content with doing good, he used no Wrappings merely to 
please, or to gain applause. The distinguishing character of 
his style is brevity and perspicuity. He never lost sight of 
the rule which Horace gives : 

' Est brevitate opus, ut currat sententia, neu se 
Impediat verbis lassas onerantibus aures.' 

'Concise your diction, let your sense be clear, 
Nor with, a weight of words fatigue the ear.' 

In all his writings his words are well chosen, pure, ^proper to 
his subject, and precise in their meaning. His sentences 
commonly have the attributes of clearness, unity, and strength; 
and whenever he took time, and gave the necessary attention 
to his subject, both his manner of treating it, and his style, 
show the hand of a master. f 

" The following is a just character of Mr. "Wesley as a 
preacher: ' His attitude in the pulpit was graceful and easy; 
his action, calm and natural, yet pleasing and expressive; his 
voice, not loud, but clear and manly; his style, neat, simple, 
and perspicuous, and admirably adapted to the capacity of 
his hearers. His discourses, in point of composition, were 
extremely different on different occasions. When he gave 

* He, however, employed much leisure time whilst at college in the 
study of anatomy and medicine. 

f His treatise on Original Sin, his Appeals, and some of his Ser- 
mons, are instances of finished and careful composition; and are 
equally to be admired for clearness of method, and the force of many 
passages which are truly eloquent. 


himself sufficient time for preparation, he succeeded; but 
when he did not, he frequently failed.' It was, indeed, man- 
ifest to his friends, for many years before he died, that his 
employments were too many, and that he preached too often, 
to appear with the same advantage at all times in the pulpit. 
His sermons were always short : he was seldom more than 
half an hour in delivering a discourse, sometimes not so long. 
His subjects. were judiciously chosen ; instructive and inter- 
esting to the audience, and well adapted to gain attention and 
warm the heart. 

" The labors- of Mr. Wesley in the work of the ministry, 
for, fifty years together, were without precedent. • During this 
period, he travelled ..about four thousand five hundred miles 
every year, one year with another, fehiefly on horseback. It 
had been impossible for him to accomplish this almost incre- 
dible degree of exertion, without great punctuality and care 
in tha management of his time. He had stated hours for 
every purpose; and his only relaxation was a change of em- 
ployment. His rules were like the laws of the Medes and 
Persians, absolute and irrevocable. He had a peculiar pleasure 
in reading and study; and eveTy literary man knows how apt 
this passion is to make him encroach on the time which ought 
to be employed in other duties. He had a high relish for 
conversation, especially with pious, learned, aud sensible men; 
but whenever the hour came when he was to set out on a 
journey, he instantly quitted the company with which he 
might be engaged, without any apparent reluctance. For 
fifty-two years, or upwards, he generally delivered two, fre- 
quently three or four, sermons in a day. But calculating 
only two sermons a day, and allowing, as a writer of his Life 
has done, fifty annually for extraordinary occasions, the whole 
number of sermons he preached during this period will be 
forty thousand fi\;e hundred and sixty. To these must be 
added an infinite number of exhortations to the societies after 
preaching, and .in other occasional meetings at which he 

" In social life, Mr. TVesley'was lively and conversational. 
He had the talent of making himself exceedingly agreeable 
in company; and, having been much accustomed to society, 
the rules of good-breeding were habitual to him. The 
abstraction of a scholar did not appear in his behavior ; but 


he was attentive and polite. He spoke a good deal where he 
saw it was expected, which was almost always the case wher- 
ever he visited. Having seen much of the world in hi3 
travels, and read more, his mind "was stored with an infinite 
number of anecdotes and observations; and the manner in 
which he related them was no inconsiderable addition to the 
entertainment and instruction they afforded. It was impossible 
to be long in his company, either in public or private, without 
partaking of his placid cheerfulness ; which was not abated 
by the infirmities of age., or the approach of death, but was 
as conspicuous at fourscore-and-seven as at ohe^and-twenty. 

"A remarkable feature in Mr. Wesley's character was his 
placability. Having an active, penetrating mind, his temper 
was naturally quick, and even tending to sharpness. The 
influence of religion, and the constant habit of patient think- 
ing, had, in a great measure, corrected this disposition. In 
general he preserved an air of sedateness and tranquillity, 
which formed a striking contrast to the liveliness conspicuous 
in all his actions. Persecution, abuse, and injury, he bore 
from strangers, not only without anger, but without any 
apparent emotion; and what he said of himself was strictly 
true, that he had a great facility in forgiving injuries. Sub- 
mission, on the part of the -offender, presently disarmed his 
resentment, and he would treat him with great kindness and 
cordiality. No man was ever more free from jealousy or 
suspicion than Mr. Wesley, or laid himself more open to the 
impositions of others. Though his confidence was often 
abused, and circumstances sometimes took place which would 
have made almost any other man suspicious, yet he suspected 
no one; nor was it easy to convince him that anyone had 
intentionally deceived him; and when facts had demonstrated 
that this was actually the case, he would allow no more than 
that it was so in that single instance. If the person acknow- 
ledged his fault, he believed him sincere, and would trust 
him again. If we view this temper of his mind in connec- 
tion with the circumstance that his most private papers lay 
open to the inspection of those constantly about him, it will 
afford as strong a proof as can well be given of the integrity 
of his own mind ; and that he was at the farthest distance 
from any intention to deceive or impose upon others. 

" The temperance of Mr, Wesley was extraordinary. When 


at college he carried this so far, that his friends thought him 
blamable. But he never imposed upon others the same 
decree of rigor he exercised upon himself. He only said, ' I 
must be the best judge of what is hurtful or beneficial to me.' 
Ainon«- other things, he was remarkable for moderation in 
sleep : and his notion of it cannot be better explained than 
in his own words. 'Healthy men,' says he, 'require above 
six hours' sleep; healthy Women, a little above seven, in 
four-and-twenty: If any one desires to know exactly what 
quantity of sleep his own constitution requires, he may very 
easily make the experiment which I made about sixty years 
a«x>. I then waked every night about twelve or one, and lay 
awake for some time. I readily concluded that this arose 
from my being in bed longer than nature required. To be 
satisfied, I procured an alarum, which waked me the next morn-» 
ing at seven; (nearly an hour earlier than I" rose the day 
before;) yet I lay awake again at night. The second morn- 
ing I rose at six; but notwithstanding this, I lay awake the 
second night. The third morning I rose at five ; but, never- 
theless, I lay awake the third night. The fourth morning I 
rose at four, as, by the grace of G-od, I have done ever since; 
and I lay awake no more. And I do not now lie awake, 
•taking the year round, a quarter of an hour together in a 
month. By the same experiment, rising earlier and earlier 
every morning, may any one find how much sleep he wants.' 

" It must, however, be observed that, for many years 
before his death, Mr. Wesley slept more or less during the 
day; and his great readiness to fall asleep at any tinfe when 
fatigued, was a considerable means of keeping up his strength, 
and enabling him to go through so much labor. He never 
could endure to sleep on a soft bed. Even in the latter part 
of life, when the infirmities of age -pressed upon him, his 
whole conduct was at the greatest distance from softness or 

"A writer of Mr. Wesley's Life, from whom some observa- 
tions respecting his general character have already been taken, 
has further observed, Perhaps the most charitable man in 
England was Mr. Wesley. His liberality to the poor knew 
no bounds but an empty pocket. He gave away, not merely 
a certain part of his income, but all that he had. His own 
wants provided for, he devoted all the rest to the necessities 


of others. He entered upon this good work at a very early 
period. We are told that, when he had thirty pounds a 
year, he lived on twenty-eight, and gave away forty shillings. 
The next year, receiving sixty pounds, he still lived on 
twenty-eight, and gave away two-and-thirty. The third year 
he received ninety pounds, and gave away sixty-two. The 
fourth year he received one. hundred and twenty pounds; 
still he lived on twenty-eight, and gave to the poor ninety- 
two. In this ratio he proceeded during the rest of his life; 
and, in the' course of fifty years, it has been supposed, he gave 
away between twenty and thirty thousand pounds ;* a great 
part of which, most other men would have put out at interest, 
upon good security. 

" In the distribution # of his money, Mr. Wesley was as 
disinterested as he was charitable. He had no regard to 
family connections, nor even to the wants of the preachers 
who labored with him, in preference to strangers. He knew 
that these had some friends ; and he thought that the poor 
destitute strange? might have none, and therefore had the first 
claim on his liberality. When a trifling legacy has been 
paid him, he has been known to dispose of it in some 
charitable way before he slept, that it might not remain his 
own property for one night. He often declared that his own 
hands should be his executors; and though he gained all he 
could by his publications, and saved all he could, not wasting 
so much as a sheet of paper, yet, by giving all he could, he 
was preserved from laying up treasures upon earth. He had 
said in print, that if he died worth more than ten pounds, in- 
dependent of his books, and the arrears of his fellowship, 
which he then held, he would give the world leave to call him 
' a thief and a robber.' This declaration, made in the integrity 
of his heart and the height of his zeal, laid him under some 
inconveniences afterwards, from circumstances which he could 
not at that 'time foresee. Yet in this, as all his friends 
expected, he literally kept his word, as far as human foresight 
could reach. His chaise and horses, his clothes, and a few 
trifles of that kind, were all, his books excepted, that he left 
at his death. Whatever might be the value of his books, this 

* Money chiefly arising from the constant and large sale of his 
writings, and the works he abridged. 


altered not the case, as they were placed in the hands of 
trustees, and the* profits arising from the sale of them were to 
be applied to the use and benefit of the Conference for public 
pnrposes ;. reserving only a few legacies and a rent-charge of 
eighty-five pounds a year to be paid to his brother's widow, 
which was, in fact, a debt, in consideration for the copyright 
of his brother's hymns. 

"Among the other excellences of Mr. Wesley, his mo- 
deration in controversy deserves to be noticed. Writers 
of controversy too often forget that .their own character is 
intrmately connected with the manner in which they treat 
others; and if they have no regard for their opponents, they 
ought to have some respect for themselves. When a writer 
becomes personal and abusive, it affords a fair presumption 
against his arguments, and tends to put his readers on their 
guard. Most of Mr. Wesley's opponents were of this, descrip- 
tion : their railing was much more violent than their reasons 
were cogent. Mr. Wesley kept his temper, and wrote like a 
Christian, a gentleman, and a scholar. He might have taken 
the'wordsof the excellent Hooker, as a motto to his polemical 
tracts, ' To*your railing I say nothing ; for your reasons, take 
what follows.' He admired the temper in which Mr. Law 
wrote controversy ; only in some instances Mr. Law shows a 
contempt for his opponent, which Mr. Wesley thought highly 

To these remarks of Dr. Whitehead may be added two or 
three sketches of Mr. Wesley's character, drawn up by differ- 
ent persons, and printed soon after his death. The first is 
anonymous : 

" Now that Mr. John Wesley has finished his course upon 
earth, I may be allowed to estimate his character, and the 
loss the world has sustained by his death. Upon a fair 
account, it appears to be such as not only annihilates all the 
reproaches that have been cast upon him, but such as does 
honor to mankind, at the same time that it reproaches them. 
His natural and acquired abilities were both of the highest 
rank. His apprehension was lively and distinct; his learning 
extensive. His judgment, though ribt infallible, was, in most 
cases, excellent. His mind was steadfast and resolved. His 
elocution was ready and clear, graceful and easy, accurate and 
unaffected. As a writer, his style, though unstudied, and 


flowiag with "natural ease, yet for accuracy and perspicuity was 
such as may vie with the best writers in *the English lan- 
guage. Though his temper was naturally warm, his manners 
were gentle, simple, and uniform. Never was such happy 
talents better seconded by an unrelenting perseverance in 
those courses which his singular endowments, and his zealous 
love to the interests of mankind, marked out for him. His 
constitution was excellent; and never was a constitution less 
abused, less spared, or more excellently applied, in an exact 
subservience to the faculties of his mind.- His labors and 
studies were wonderful. The latter were not confined to 
theology only, but extended to every -subject that tended 
either to the improvement or the rational entertainment of 
the mind. If we consider his reading by itself, his writings 
and his other labors by themselves, any one of them will 
appear sufficient to have kept a person of ordinary application 
busy during his whole life. In short, the transactions of his 
life could never have been performed without the utmost 
exertion of two qualities, which depended not upon his capa- 
city, but on the uniform steadfastness of his resolution : 
these were inflexible temperance, apd unexampled economy 
of time. In these he was a pattern to the age he lived in; 
and an example to what a surprising extent a man may ren- 
der himself useful in his generation, by temperance and 
punctuality. His friends and followers have no reason to be 
ashamed of the name of Methodist, which he has entailed 
upon them; as, for an uninterrupted course of years, he has 
given the world an instance of the possibility of living with- 
out wasting a single hour ; and of the advantage of a regular 
distribution of time, in discharging the important duties and 
purposes of life. Few ages have more needed such a public 
testimony to the value of time ; and perhaps none have had a 
more conspicuous example of the perfection to which the im- 
provement of it may be carried. 

"As a minister, his labors were unparalleled, and such 
as nothing could have supported him under but the warmest 
zeal for the doctrine he taught, and for the eternal interests 
of mankind. He studied to be gentle, yet vigilant and 
faithful towards all. He possessed himself in patience, and 
preserved himself unprovoked, nay, even unruffled, in the 
midst of persecution, reproach, and all manner of abuse both 


of his person and name. But let his own works praise h;m. 
He now enjoys the fruits of his labors, and that praise which 
he sought, not of men", but of God. 

" To finish the portrait. Examine the general tenor of his 
life, and it will be found self-evidently inconsistent with his 
being a slave tb any one passion or pursuit that can fix 
a blemish on his character. 'Of what use were the accumula- 
tion of wealth* to him, who, through his whole course, never 
allowed himself to taste the repose of indolence, or even of the 
common indulgence in the use of the necessaries of life ? 
Free from the partiality of any party, the sketcher of this ex- 
cellent character, with a friendly tear, pays it as a just tribute 
to the memory of so great and good a man, who, when alive, 
was his friend." 

Of Mr. Wesley, Mr. Alexander Knox says : 

" Very lately, I had an opportunity, for some days together, 
of observing Mr. Wesley with attention. I endeavored to 
consider him, not so touch with the eye of a friend, as with 
the impartiality of a philosopher; and I must declare, every 
hour I spent in his company afforded me fresh reasons for 
esteem and veneration. So fine an old man I never saw. 
The happiness of his mind beamed forth in his countenance. 
Every look showed howfully he enjoyed 'the gay remembrance 
of a life well spent ;' and wherever he went, he diffused a por- 
tion of his own felicity. Easy and affable in his demeanor, 
he accommodated himself to every sort of company, and 
showed how happily the most finished courtesy may be blended 
with the most perfect piety: In his conversation, we might 
be at a loss whether to admire most his fine classical taste, 
his extensive knowledge of men and things; or his overflow- 
ing goodness of heart. While the grave and serious were 
charmed with his wisdom, his sportive sallies of innocent 
mirth delighted even the young and thoughtless; and both 
saw, in his uninterrupted cheerfulness, the excellency of true 
religion. No cynical remarks on the levity of youth imbit- 
tered his discourse; no applausive retrospect to past times 
marked his present discontent. In him even old age appeared 
delightful, like an evening without a cloud ; and it was impos- 
sible to observe him without wishing fervently, 'May my latter 
end be like his '' 

" But I find myself unequal to the task of delineating such 


a character. *What I have said may to some appear as pane- 
gyric; but there are numbers, and those of taste and discern- 
ment too, who can bear witness to the truth, though by no 
means to the perfectness, of the sketch I have attempted. 
With such I have been frequently in his company ; and every 
one of them, I am persuaded, would- subscribe to all I have 
said. For my own part, I never was so happy as while with 
him, and scarcely ever felt more poignant regret than at part- 
ing from him; for well I knew 'I ne'er should look upon 
his like again.' " • • 

The following account of Mr. Wesley appeared soon after 
his death, in a very respectable publication ; and was after- 
wards inserted in Woodfall's Diary, London, June 17th, 1791 : 

" His indefatigable zeal in the discharge Of his duty has 
been long witnessed by the world ; but, as mankind are not 
always inclined to put a generous construction cm the exer- 
tions of singular talents, his motives were imputed to the love 
of popularity, ambition, and lucre. It now appears that he 
was actuated by a disinterested regard to the immortal inter- 
ests of mankind. He labored, and studied, and preached, 
and wrote, to propagate what he believed to be the gospel of 
Christ. The intervals of these engagements were employed 
in governing and regulating the concerns of his numerous 
societies ; assisting the necessities, solving the difficulties, and 
soothing the afflictions of his hearers. He observed so rigid 
a temperance, and allowed himself so little repose, that he 
seemed to be above the infirmities of nature, and to act inde- 
pendent of the earthly tenement he occupied. The recital 
of the occurrences of every day of his life would be the great- 
est encomium. 

" Had he loved wealth, he might have accumulated it with- 
out bounds. Had he been fond of power, his influence would 
have been worth courting by any party. I do not say he was 
without ambition : he had that which Christianity need not 
blush at, and which virtue is proud to confess. I do not 
mean that which is gratified by splendor and large possessions; 
but that which commands the hearts and affections, the hom- 
age and gratitude of thousands. For him they felt sentiments- 
of veneration, only inferior to those which they paid to Hea- 
ven ; to him they looked as their father, their benefactor, 
their guide to glory and immortality: for him they fell pros- 


trate before God, with prayers and tears, to spare his doom, 
and prolong his stay. Such a recompense as this is sufficient 
to repay the toils of the longest life. Short of this, greatness 
is contemptible impotence. Before this, lofty prelates bow, 
and princes hide their diminished heads. 

" His zeal was not a transient blaze, but a steady and con- 
stant flame. The ardor of his spirit was neither damped by 
difficulty, nor subdued by age. This was ascribed by himself 
to the power of Divine grace ; by the world, to enthusiasm. 
Be it what it will, it is what philosophers must envy, and 
infidels respect; it is that which gives energy to the soul, and 
without which there can be no greatness or heroism. 

"Why should we condemn that in religion which we 
applaud in every other profession and pursuit? He had a 
vigor and elevation of mind, which nothing but the belief of 
the Divine favor and presence could inspire. This threw a 
lustre round his infirmities, changed his bed of sickness into 
a triumphal car, and made his exit resemble an apotheosis 
rather than a dissolution. 

" He was qualified to excel in every branch of literature. 
He was well versed in the learned tongues, in metaphysics, 
in oratory, in logic, in criticism, and every requisite of a 
Christian minister. His style was nervous, clear, and manly; 
his preaching was" pathetic and persuasive ; his Journals are 
artless and interesting; and his compositions and compilations 
to promote knowledge and piety were almost innumerable. 

^ I do not say he was without faults, or above mistakes ; 
but they were lost in the multitude of his excellences and 

" To gain the admiration of an ignorant and superstitious 
age, requires only a little artifice and address : to stand the 
test of these times, when all pretensions to sanctity are stig- 
matized as hypocrisy, is a proof of genuine piety and real 
usefulness. His great object was to revive the obsolete doc- 
trines and extinguished spirit of the Church of England; 
and they who are its friends cannot be Bis enemies. Yet for 
this he was treated as a fanatic and impostor, and exposed to 
every species of slander and persecution. Even bishops and 
dignitaries entered the lists against him ; but he never 
declined the combat, and generally proved victorious. ^He 
appealed to the Homilies, the Articles, and the Scriptures, as 


vouchers for 4iis doctrine ; and they who could not decide 
upon the merits of the controversy, were witnesses of the 
effects of his labors; and they judged of the tree by its fruit. 
It is true, he did not succeed much in the higher walks of 
life; but that impeached his cause no more than it did that 
of the first planters of the gospel. However, if he had been 
capable of assuming vanity on that score, he might have 
ranked among his friends some persons of the first distinction, 
who would have done honor to any party. After surviving 
almost all his adversaries, and acquiring respect among those 
who were the most distant from his principles, he lived to see 
the plant he had reared, spreading its branches far and wide, 
and inviting not only these kingdoms, but the western world, 
to repose under its shade. No sect, since the first ages of 
Christianity, could boast a founder of such extensive talents 
and endowments. If he had been a candidate for literary 
fame, he might have succeeded to his utmost wishes.; but he 
sought not the praise of man ; he regarded learning only as 
the instrument of usefulness. The great purpose of his life 
was doing good. For this he relinquished all honor and pre- 
ferment; to this he dedicated all his powers of body and 
mind ; at all times and in all places, in season and out of sea- 
son, by gentleness, by terror, by argument, by persuasion, by 
reason, by interest, by every motive and every inducement, he 
strove, with unwearied assiduity, to turn men from the error 
of their ways, and awaken them to virtue and religion. To 
the bed of sickness, or the couch of prosperity; to the prison, 
the hospital, the house of mourning, or the house of feasting; 
wherever there was a friend to serve, or a soul to save, he 
readily repaired, to administer assistance or advice, reproof 
or consolation. He thought no office too humiliating, no con- 
descension too low, no undertaking too arduous, to reclaim 
the meanest of God's offspring. The souls of all men were 
equally precious in his sight, and the value of an immortal 
creature beyond all estimation. He penetrated the abodes of 
wretchedness and ignorance, to rescue the profligate from 
perdition; and he communicated the light of life to those 
who sat in darkness and the shadow of death. He changed 
the outcasts of society into useful members; civilized even 
savages, and filled those lips with prayer and praise that had 
been accustomed only to oaths and imprecations. But as the 


strongest religious impressions are apt to become languid 
without discipline and practice, he divided his people into 
classes and bands, according to their attainments. Ho 
appointed frequent meetings for prayer and conversation, 
where they gave an account of their experience, their hopes 
and fears, their joys and troubles ; by which means they were 
united to each other, and to^heir common profession. They 
became sentinels upon each other's conduct, and securities for 
each other's character. Thus the seeds he sowed sprang up 
and flourished, bearing the rich fruits of every grace and 
virtue. Thus he governed and preserved his numerous socie- 
ties, watching their improvement with a paternal care, and 
encouraging them to be faithful to the end. 

" But I will not attempt to draw his full character, nor to 
estimate the extent of his labors and services. They will be 
best known when he shall deliver up his commission into the 
hands of his great Master." 

The following is a description of Mr. Wesley's person : 

'•The figure of Mr. Wesley was remarkable. His stature 
was low ; his habit of body, in every period of life, the reverse 
of corpulent, and expressive of strict temperance and con- 
tiuual exercise; and, notwithstanding his small size, his step 
was firm, and his appearance, till within a few years of his 
death, vigorous and muscular. His face, for an old man, was 
one of the finest we have seen. A clear, smooth forehead ; 
an aquiline nose ; an eye, the brightest and most piercing 
that can be conceived; and a freshness of complexion scarcely 
ever to be found at his years, and expressive of the most 
perfect health — conspired to render him a venerable and in- 
teresting figure. Few have seen him without being struck 
with his appearance; and many, who had been greatly pre- 
judiced against him, have been known to change their 
opinion the moment they were introduced into his presence. 
In his countenance and demeanor, there was a cheerfulness 
mingled with gravity; a sprightliness, which was the natural 
result of an unusual flow of spirits, and yet was accompanied 
with every mark of the most serene tranquillity. His aspect, 
particularly in profile, had a strong character of acuteness and 

"In dress, he was a pattern of neatness and simplicity. 


A narrow plaiteS stock; a coat, with a small upright collar; 
no buckles at his knees ; no silk or velvet in any part of his 
apparel ; and a head as white as snow — gave an idea of some- 
thing primitive and apostolic ; while an air of neatness and 
cleanliness was diffused over his whole person," 



Mr. Wesley and the Church — Modern Methodism and the Church — 
Charges refuted-^Mr. Wesley's writings— Extent of the Methodist 
societies at his death, and at the present time — Conclusion. 

A few miscellaneous topics remain to be noticed. One 
of the chief reasons why full and willing justice has not been 
always done to the labors of Mr. Wesley, has doubtless 
arisen from the facts, that, whatever his views might be, he 
raised up a people who in his lifetime formed a religious 
bo4y independent of the Church, whilst yet not nominally 
separated from it; and that since his death, although that 
separation does not affect all the members, yet the 1 great mass 
of the societies, and all the preachers, are as completely 
separated from the Establishment as any body of professed 
Dissenters. That a strict Churchman should consider this 
as a great counterbalance to the good effected by Methodism, 
is very natural ; and he has a right to his opinions, provided 
he holds them in charity. Still, however, this subject is so 
frequently dwelt upon under mistaken and imperfect views, 
that it demands a few additional remarks. 

As far as Mr. Wesley's character is concerned, enough has 
been said to show the sincerity with which he disavowed all 
intention of separating from the Church, and of making his 
people separatists. This, certainly, notwithstanding the free- 
dom of his opinions on Church government, cannot be 
charged upon him in the early period of his career; and 
although, in what we may call the second period, he saw so 
strong a tendency to separation that his fears were often 
excited, yet he may surely be allowed still to have proceeded 
straight forward, with perfect honesty of mind, in the same 


course, with more of hope on this subject than of fear. 
Several eminent writers of the Church party have thought 
that even modern Methodism, though existing now in a form 
apparently less friendly to union, might still with advantage 
be attached to the Church ; and they have seen but little 
difficulty iu the project. Why, then, might not Mr. Wesley, 
even after his societies had acquired considerable maturity, 
still hope that those simple institutions for promoting piety, 
which he had commenced, might have been recognized by the 
Church, and that the spirit of religion, revived already to so 
great an extent, might still further so influence the members 
of the Church and its clergy, as to dispose them to view his 
societies with more cordiality ? He took care, therefore, and 
all his principles and feelings favored the caution, that no 
obstacles should be placed in the way of the closest connection 
of his societies with the Establishment. Their services were 
very seldom held in the hours of her public service : the 
Methodists formed, in many parishes, the great body of her 
communicants: thousands of them died in her communion; 
and the preachers were not ordinarily permitted to administer 
either of the sacraments to the people among whom they 
labored. There can be no charge, therefore, against, his 
sincerity at this period, any more than in the first. We may 
think his hopes to have b«en without any foundation ; and so 
they proved; and the idea of uniting the modern Methodists 
to the Church is a very visionary one, but has doubtless been 
maintained by several Churchmen with great sincerity. Se- 
paration from the Church, at a later period of Mr. Wesley's 
life, was certainly anticipated. That must be allowed ; but 
an enlightened Churchman ought to think that Mr. Wesley's 
conduct was still worthy of praise, not of censure; for when 
a partial separation was in reality foreseen as probable, it had 
no sanction from him, and he appeared determined- so to 
employ his influence to his last breath, that if separation did 
ensue, it should assume the mildest form possible, and be 
deprived of all feelings of hostility. His example, the spirit 
of his writings, and his advices, all tended to this; and the 
fact is, that, though Methodism now stands in a different 
relation to the Establishment than in the days of Mr. Wesley, 
Dissent has never been formally professed by the body, and 
for obvious reasons. The first is, that the separation of the 


greater part of the society from the Church did not in any- 
great, degree result from the principles assumed by the pro- 
fessed Dissenters, and which are usually made prominent in 
their discussions on the subject of establishments; the second, 
that a considerable number of the Methodists actually con- 
tinue in the communion of the Churoh of England to this 
day; and the third, that to leave that communion is not in 
any sense a condition of membership with us. All the 
services of the Church, and her, sacraments, may be observed 
by any person in the Wesleyan societies who chooses it; and 
they are actually observed by. many.* 

It was owing to these circumstances that Methodism did 
not rush down, but gently glided, into a state of partial 
division from the Church; and this, by neither arousing party 
passions, nor exciting discussions on abstract points of Church 
polity, has left the general feeling of affection to all that is 
excellent in the Establishment unimpaired. No intemperate 
attacks upon it have been ever sanctioned-; the attendance 
of the Methodists upon .its services was ,never discouraged ; 
and it is surely of some account that a vast mass of people 
throughout the country have been held in a state of friendly 
feeling towards a clergy who have, nevertheless, generally 
treated them with disdain and contumely, and many pf whom 
have zealously employed themselves in nursing feelings of 
bigoted dislike to them among their friends and neighbors. 
Yet, after all, the prevalent sentiment of the Methodists, as a 

[* The prevalence of "Puseyism," however, in late years, has so 
alienated the Wesleyans from the Establishment, that but few of them 
at present commune at her altars. Indeed, the tables have been 
turned — Episcopalians, to escape Puseyism, have been seeking the 
ordinances from Wesleyan ministers. The modification and develop- 
ment of the Church system of the British Methodists — thorough 
ministerial training, imposition of hands in ordination, the use of the 
liturgy, more systematic regard to oatechumenical instruction — have 
left but little to be desiderated by the " Church party" in the Connec- 
tion. These observations, of course, have no reference to the Me- 
thodist Episcopal Church in the United States, which, as far as the 
Methodists were concerned, according to Mr. Wesley's design, took 
the place of the Church of England in this country. Methodist 
' Churchmen," almost to a man, were satisfied with the Methodist 
Episcopal Church ; and many Episcopalians, not Methodists, have re- 
ceived the Christian ordinances at her altars. — T. 0. S.] 


body, towards tne Establishment has been that of friendship. 
It was so when the Church was in a lower religious state than 
it is at present ; and its more recent religious improvement 
has not diminished the feeling. I may venture to say, that 
there is a warmer regard towards the Church among the body 
of the Methodists now, than there was in the days of Mr. 
Wesley; although there were then more Methodists than at 
present who professed to be of her communion. We have no 
respect at all to her exclusive claims of Divine right, or her 
three orders of ministers; and yet have no objection to her 
episcopacy, when scripturally understood, or her services. 
We smile at the claims she sometimes assumes to be the 
exclusive instructress of the people, in a country where the 
statute law has given them the right to be taught by whom 
they please, and as explicitly protects dissent as conformity ; 
but we rejoice that she has great influence with the mass 
of the population, whenever that influence is used for the 
promotion of true religion and good morals. We wish her 
prosperity and perpetuity, as we wish all other Christian 
Churches; and the more so, as we recognize in her "the 
mother of us all/' and can never contemplate without the 
deepest admiration her noble army of confessors and mar- 
tyrs, and the illustrious train of her divines, whose writings 
have been, and continue to be, the light of Christendom. If 
Churchmen think this feeling of any importance, let them 
reciprocate it; and though the formal union of which some 
of them have spoken is visionary, a still stronger bond of 
friendship migbt be established; and each might thus be- 
come more formidable against the errors and evils of the 
times ; for a people who have nearly half as many places of 
worship in the kingdom as there are parish churches, cannot 
be without influence. 

Nor have the true causes which led to the separation of the 
Methodists from the Church been in general rightly stated. 
Some of the violent adherents of " the old plan," as it was 
called, among ourselves, have ignorantly, or in a party spirit, 
attributed this to the ambition and intrigues of the preachers; 
but the true causes were, that the clergy, generally, did not 
preach the doctrines of their own Church and of the Reforma- 
tion ; and that many of them did not adorn their profession 
by their lives. It may be added, that in no small number 


of cases, the clergy were the persecutors and calumniators of 
the Wesleyan societies; that the sermons in the churches 
were often intemperate attacks upon their characters and 
opinions j and that the Methodists were frequently regarded 
as intruders at the table of the Lord, rather than as welcome 
communicants. These were the reasons why, long before Mr. 
Wesley's death, a great number of his societies were anxious 
to have the sacraments from the hands of their own preachers, 
under whose ministry they were instructed and edified, in 
whose characters they had confidence, and with respect to 
whom they knew, that if any one disgraced his profession, he 
would not be suffered long to exercise it. 

Such were the true causes which led to the partial separa- 
tion of the Methodist societies from the communion of the 
Church, after the death of Mr. Wesley ; and this is an answer 
to the objection, repeated a thousand times, that we have 
departed from Mr. Wesley's principles. The fact is, that 
though full relief* to the consciences of the societies in general 
was refused by Mr. Wesley's authority, yet he himself was 
obliged to allow a relaxation from his own rule in London, 
and some other principal towns, by giving the Lord's Supper 
himself, or obtaining pious clergymen to administer it in his 
chapels. After his death it was out of the power of the Con- 
ference, had they not felt the force of the reasons urged upon 
them, to prevent the administration of the sacraments to the 
people by their own preachers. Yet, in the controversy 
which this subject excited, speculative principles had little 
part. The question stood on plain practical grounds : Shall 
the societies be obliged, from their conscientious scruples, to 
neglect an ordinance of God ? Or shall*we drive them to the 
Dissenters, whose peculiar doctrines they do not believe ? or 
shall we, under certain regulations, accede to their wishes? 
So far from Mr. Wesley's principles and views having lost 
their influence with the Conference, the sacraments were 
forced upon none, and recommended to none. The old prin- 
ciples were held as fast as higher duties would allow. Many, 
indeed, of the people, and some of the preachers, opposed 
even these concessions ; but the plan which was adopted to 
meet cases of conscientious scruple, and yet to avoid encourag- 
ing a departure from the primitive system, leaving every in- 
dividual to act in this respect as he was persuaded in his own 


mind, and receive the Lord's Supper at church or at chapel, 
was at length, by both parties in England, cordially aquiesced 
in, as warranted equally by principle and by prudence. As- 
suredly the Church would have gained nothing by a different 
measure ; for the dissidents would have been compelled to 
join other communions. Had the Church been provided 
early with an evangelical and holy ministry, that separation 
would not have taken place; for the controversy between the 
Church and .the Dissenters was little known, and still less 
regarded, by the majority of the Methodist societies at that 
time; and the case is not greatly altered at the present day. 
The clergy had lost their hold upon the people generally, 
through neglect; and that revival of the spirit of truth aud 
holiness, which we are now so happy to witness among them, 
came too late to prevent the results just stated. 

And what should we do now, if we were disposed to revert 
to the state of things in Mr. Wesley's time ? It is true we 
should mor-e rarely meet with immoral clergymen; and so 
that part of the case would be relieved as a matter of con- 
science. But would the Methodist societies meet with 
friendly clergymen; with men who would bear with so many 
communicants, in' addition to those who now attend their 
churches ? And if they were brought to attend the services 
of their parish churches, would they be disposed long to hear 
those of the clergy who never preach the doctrines of the 
Articles of their own Church? or those who follow some 
great names of the present day, and neologize as far as de- 
cency permits ? or those of the evangelical party, whose 
discourses are strongly impregnated with Calvinism ? or 
those who place their speculations on the prophecies among 
the means of grace and salvation ? Our people would neither 
hear such clergymen themselves, nor could they conscien- 
tiously train up their families to listen to what they believe 
great error; and so if we were to go back, as we have been 
exhorted, to Mr. Wesley's first plan, the majority of our peo- 
ple would, as then, neither attend church nor sacrament, and 
the same process would have to be repeated again, with pro- 
bably less peaceful results. 

" But 'great evil' has resulted to the Church from Method- 
ism." This has been often said, certainly never substantiated ; 
and this defence of the hostile feeling of many Churchmen 


toward Mr. Wesley and his societies stands upon no solid 
ground. On the contrary, it seems not at all difficult to make 
it plainly appear that great good has resulted to the Church, 
as well as to the nation. When this question is under con- 
sideration by Churchmen, they look at the mere fact that a 
great body of people have been raised up, as they say, outs 
of the Church, within a century past, excelling in number 
almost, if not entirely, the whole of the old bodies of Dis- 
senters ; and they assume that if the Wesleys and Mr. White- 
field had never appeared, the Church would have been in as 
improved a state as now, with none but the old Dissenters to 
contend with. There is great fallacy in both these views, 
which merits to be pointed out. 

When the Messrs. Wesley, Mr. Whitefield, and their early 
coadjutors entered upon their itinerant- career, it is a matter 
of fact and history, that no general plans for the illumination 
of the nation were either in operation, or iu the contempla- 
tion- of any one. Nothing had this bearing. There were no 
persons associated in such institutions of any kind, making 
this a common object. The pious labors of a few zealous 
clergymen, (and few they were,) and of the ministers of other 
denominations, were confined to their own parishes and con- 
gregations. There were no means of general application in 
existence, to remove the ignorance and correct the vices 
which were almost uuiversal. The measures taken by the 
founders of Methodism to correct existing evils were on a 
large scale. They acted in concert : they conceived noble 
designs. They visited the large towns: they labored in the 
populous mining, manufacturing, and commercial districts: 
they preached in places of public resort: they formed reli- 
gious societies, and inspired them with zeal for the instruc- 
tion and salvation of their neighbors : they employed men of 
zeal, character, and competent acquaintance with practical 
and experimental religion, to assist them in this work as it 
widened before them; and they gave it their vigilant super- 
intendence. The benefits they were the means of producing 
were not confined to individuals; they influenced whole 
neighborhoods. Religious knowledge was spread, and re- 
ligious influence exerted. The manners of the rude were 
civilized; barbarous sports and pastimes fell greatly into dis- 

334 THE LlffE OF 

use ; and a higher standard of morals was erected, of itself 
of no small importance to the reformation of manners. 

It is a matter of history that, besides those means which 
were afforded by their personal labors, and by the auxiliaries 
they brought forward to their assistance, in order to revive 
and extend the spirit of religion in the nation, for a great 
number of years no other means of extensive application were 
employed to promote this end. The effects which were thus 
produced began, however, after a considerable time had 
elapsed, to operate collaterally as well as directly. Many of 
the clergy were aroused, and the doctrines of the Articles and 
the Homilies began to be heard more distinctly and more 
frequently in their pulpits. Holy and zealous men in differ- 
ent denominations began to labor for the public instruction 
and reformation. The institution of Sunday-schools, though 
devised* by a Churchman, was, at first, but slowly encouraged. 
The Methodists and Dissenters were carrying those schools to 
a great extent when the members of the Church followed : 
some from a fear, laudable enough, lest the body of the poor 
should be alienated from the Establishment; others, as per- 
ceiving in the institution the means of conveying instruction 
and religious influence to those who most needed them. The 
circulation of the Scriptures by Bible Societies followed ; but 
still that was an effect of the new order of principles and feel- 
ings which had been introduced into the nation. These 
principles of zeal for the moral improvement of society fur- 
ther led, at a later period, to general measures for the educa- 
tion of the poor, by the two great national Education So- 
cieties, which promise so much benefit to the country. All 
these efforts for enlightening and moralizing the people may 
be traced to several intermediate causes; but it is only jus- 
tice to the memory of such men as the Wesley s and White- 
field, men so often flippantly branded as enthusiasts, to state 
that they all primarily sprang from that spirit which, under 
God, they were the means of exciting in a slumbering 
Church, and in a dark and neglected land. This is a point 
not to be denied; for long before any of those efforts for 

[* Perhaps it would be better to say revived and modified, for Sun- 
day-schools existed long before the time of Robert Raikes. — T. 0. S.] 


public instruction and reformation which could be considered 
national were called forth, those aspersed men were pursuing 
their gigantic labors among the profligate population of Lon- 
don, and of the principal towns of the kingdom; among the 
miners of Cornwall, the colliers of Kingswood and Newcastle, 
and the manufacturers of Yorkshire and Lancashire ; whilst 
the preachers they employed were every year spreading them- 
selves into dark semi-barbarous villages in the most secluded 
parts of the kingdom; enduring bitter privations, and en- 
countering, almost daily, the insults of jude mobs, that they 
might convey to them the knowledge of religion. 

Now, in order to judge of these efforts, and to ascertain 
what "evil" has resulted to the Church of England from Mr 
Wesley's measures, it is but fair to consider what the state of 
the country and of the Church must in all human probability 
have been, had he and his associates never appeared, or con- 
fined themselves to the obscurity of Epworth and similar 
parishes. It is not denied that other means and agents might 
have been raised up by Grod to effect the purposes of his 
mercy ; but it is denied that any such were raised up, for this 
is matter of fact. No agency has appeared in the Church, or 
out of it, tending to the general instruction and evangelizing 
of the nation, and operating on a large scale, which is not 
much subsequent in its origin to the exertions of the Messrs. 
Wesley and Whitefield ; and which may not be traced to the 
spirit which they excited, and often into the very bosoms of 
those who derived their first light and influence, either directly 
or indirectly, from them. What was, and not what might 
have been, can only be made the ground of argument. 

But for their labors, therefore, and the labors of those 
persons in the Church, among the Dissenters, and their own 
people, whom they imbued with the same spirit, that state of 
things in the Church of England, and in the country at large, 
which has been already described, must have continued, at 
least for many years, for any thing which appears to the con- 
trary; for no substitute for their exertions was supplied by 
any party. They took the place of none who were exerting 
themselves ; they opposed no obstacle to the operation of any 
plan of usefulness, had it been in preparation. If they there- 
fore had not appeared, and kindled that flame of religious 
feeling which ultimately spread into many denominations of 


Christians, andihus gave birth to that variety of effort which 
now diffuses itself through the laud, it is a very erroneous 
conclusion to suppose that a later period would have fouod 
the nation and the Church at all improved. The probability, 
almost amounting to certainty, is, that both would have been 
found still more deteriorated, and in a state which would have 
presented obstacles much more formidable to their recovery. 
For all who have given attention to such subjects must know, 
that a number of those demoralizing causes were then coming 
into operation, which, with all the counteractions since sup- 
plied by the Church, and the different religious sects, by 
schools, and by Bibles, have produced very injurious effects 
upon the morals and principles of the nation; that the tide 
of an unprecedented commercial prosperity began then to flow 
into the country, and continued, for a long succession of years, 
to render the means of sensual indulgence more ample, and 
to corrupt more deeply all ranks of society ; that, in conse- 
quence of the independence thus given to the lower orders in 
many of the most populous districts, the moral control and 
influence of the higher became gradually weaker; that the 
agitation of political subjects, during, the American quarrel 
and the French Revolution, with the part which even the 
operative classes were able to take in such discussions by 
means of an extended education, produced, as will always be 
the case among the half-informed, a strong tendency to repub- 
licanism,* a restless desire of political change on every pinch- 
ing of the times, and its constant concomitant, an aversion to 
the national Establishment, partly as the result of ill-digested 
theories, and partly because this feeling was encouraged by 
the negligent habits of many of the clergy, and the absence 
of that influence which they might have acquired in their 
parishes by careful pastoral attentions. To all this is to be 
added the diffusion of infidel principles, both of foreign and 
home growth, which, from the studies of the learned, de- 
scended into the shop of the mechanic, and, embodied in 

[* The author wrote as a loyal Englishman : he deprecated a revo- 
lution in England, particularly in view of the red-republicanism 
which many sought to import from the other side of the channel, 
though he highly appreciated the republican institutions of the United 
States.— T. 0. S.] 


cheap and popular works, found their way into every part of 
the empire. To counteract agencies and principles so active 
and so pernicious, it is granted that no means have yet been 
applied of complete adequacy. This is the reason why their 
effects are so rife in the present day, and that we are now in 
the midst of a state of things which no considerate man can 
contemplate without some anxiety. These circumstances, so 
devastating to morals and goocl principles, could only have 
been fully neutralized by the ardent exertions of every clergy- 
man in his parish, of every Dissenting minister in his congre- 
gation, of every Methodist preacher in his circuit, of every 
private Christian in his own circle, or in the place which use- 
ful and pious institutions of various kinds would have assigned 
him ; and even then the special blessing of G-od would have 
been necessary to give effect to the whole. But had no cor- 
rectives been applied, whaS had been the present state of the 
nation and of the Church ? The labors of the founders of 
Methodism were, from the beginning, directly counteractive of 
the evils just mentioned; and those have little reason to 
stigmatize them who deplore such evils most, and yet have 
done least for their correction apd restraint. Wherever these 
men went, they planted the principles of religion in the minds 
of the multitudes who heard them ; they acted on the offen- 
sive against immorality, infidelity, and error; the societies 
they raised were employed in doing good to all; the persons 
they associated with them in the work of national reformation 
were always engaged in diffusing piety; and though great 
multitudes were beyond their reach, they spread themselves into 
every part of the land, turning the attention of men to reli- 
gious concerns, calming their passions, guarding them against 
the strifes of the world, enjoining the scriptural principles of 
"obedience to magistrates/' and a sober, temperate, peace- 
able, and benevolent conduct. The direct effect of their 
exertions was great; and it increased in energy and extent 
as the demoralizing causes before mentioned acquired also 
greater activity; and when their indirect influence began to 
appear more fully in the national Church, and in other reli- 
gious bodies, remedies more commensurate with the evils 
existing in the country began to be applied. I shall not 
affect to say what would have been the state of the Church 
of England under the uncontrolled operation of all the causes 


of moral deterioration and civil strife to which I have 
adverted ; or what hold that Church would have had upon 
the people at this day, if the spirit of religion had not been 
revived in the country, and if, when ancient prejudices were 
destroyed or weakened by the general spread of information 
among men, no new bond between it and the nation at large 
had been created. But if, as I am happy to believe, the 
national Church has much more influence and much more 
respect now than formerly • and if its influence and the re- 
spect due to it are increasing with the increase of its evan- 
gelical clergy, all this is owing to the existence of a stronger 
spirit of piety ; and in producing that, the first great instru- 
ments were the men whose labors have been mentioned in the 
preceding pages. Not only has the spirit which they excited 
improved the religious state of the Church, but it has dis- 
posed the great body of religious people, not of the Church, 
to admire and respect those numerous members of the Estab- 
lishment, both clergymen and laics, whose eminent piety, 
talents, and usefulness, have done more to abate the preju- 
dices arising from different views of Church government, than 
a thousand treatises could have effected, however eloquently 
written or ably argued. 

It may also be asked, Who are the persons whom the 
Methodists have alienated from the Church ? In this, too, the 
Church writers have labored under great mistakes. They 
have "alienated" those, for the most part, who never were, 
in any substantial sense, and never would have been, of the 
Church. Very few of her pious members have at any time 
been separated from her communion by a connection with us ; 
and many who became serious through the Methodist ministry, 
continued attendants on her services, and observers of her 
sacraments. This was the case during the life of Mr. Wes- 
ley, and in many instances is so still; and when an actual 
separation of a few persons has occurred, it has been much 
more than compensated by a return of others from us to the 
Church, especially of opulent persons, or their children, in 
consequence of that superior influence which an established 
Church must always exert upon people of that class. For 
the rest, they have been brought chiefly from the ranks of the 
ignorant and the careless ; persons who had little knowledge, 
and no experience of the power of religion ; negligent of reli- 


gious worship of -every kind, and many of whom, but for the 
agency of Methodism, would have swelled the ranks of those 
who are equally disaffected to Church and state. If such 
persons are not now Churchmen, they are influenced by no 
feelings hostile to the institutions of their country. 

Such considerations may tend to convey more sober views 
on a subject often taken up in heat: that they will quite 
disarm the feeling against which they are levelled, is more 
than can be hoped for, considering, the effects of party spirit, 
and the many forms of virtue which it simulates. However, 
it is nothing new for the Methodists to endure reproach, and 
to be subject to misrepresentations. Perhaps something of an 
exclusive spirit may have grown up amongst us in consequence ; 
but, if so, it has this palliation, that we are quite as expansive 
as the circumstances in which we have ever been placed could 
lead any reasonable man to anticipate. It might almost be 
said of us, " Lo, the people shall dwell alone." The High- 
Churchman has persecuted us, because we are separatists ; the 
high Dissenter has often looked upon us with hostility, be- 
cause we would not see that an establishment necessarily, and 
in se, involved a sin against the supremacy of Christ; the 
rigid Calvinist has disliked us, because we hold the redemp- 
tion of all men ; the Pelagianized Arminian, because we con- 
tend for salvation by grace ; the Antinomian, because we 
insist upon the perpetual obligation of the moral law ; the 
moralist, because we exalt faith ; the disaffected, because we 
hold that loyalty and religion are inseparable ; the political 
tory, because he cannot think that separatists from the 
Church can be loyal to the throne; the philosopher, because 
he deems us fanatics; whilst semi-infidel liberals generally 
exclude us from all share in their liberality, except it be in 
their liberality of abuse. In the mean time, we have occa- 
sionally been favored with a smile, though somewhat of a, con- 
descending one, from the lofty Churchman ; and often with 
a fraternal embrace from pious and liberal Dissenters. And 
if we act upon the principles left us by our great founder, 
we shall make a meek and lowly temper an essential part of 
our religion ; and, after his example, move onward in the path 
of doing good, through " honor and dishonor, through evil 
report and good report," remembering that one fundamental 


principle of Wesleyan Methodism is anti-sectarianism and 


To return, however, to Mr. Wesley. Among the censures 
which have been frequently directed against him, are his 
alleged love of power, and his credulity. The first is a vice, 
the second but a weakness ; and they stand, therefore, upon 
different grounds. 

As to the love of power, it may be granted that, like many 
minds who seem born to direct, he desired to acquire influ- 
ence; and, when he attained it, he employed his one talent 
so as to make it gain more talents. If he had loved power 
for its own sake, or to minister to selfish purposes, or to injure 
others, this would have been a great blemish ; but he sacri- 
ficed no principle of his own, and no interest or right of oth- 
ers, for its gratification. He gained power, as all great and 
good men gain it, by the very greatness and goodness with 
which they are endowed, and of which others are always 
more sensible than themselves. It devolved upon him with- 
out any contrivance; and when he knew he possessed it, no 
instance is on record of his having abused it. This is surely 
virtue, not vice, and virtue of the highest order. The only 
proof attempted to be given that he loved power, is, that he 
never devolved his authority over the societies upon others; 
but this is capable of an easy explanation. He could not 
have shared his power among many, without drawing up a 
formal constitution of Church government for his societies, 
which would have amounted to a formal separation from the 
Church ; and it would have been an insane action, had he 
devolved it upon one, and placed himself, and the work he 
had effected, under the management of any individual to 
whom his societies could not stand in the same filial relation 
as to himself. He, however, exercised his influence by aid 
of the counsel of others; and allowed the free discussion of 
all prudential matters in the Conference. Had he been armed 
with legal power to inflict pains and penalties, he ought to 
have distrusted himself, as every wise and good man would 
do, and to have voluntarily put himself beyond the reach of 
temptation to abuse what mere man, without check, can sel- 
dom use aright. This I grant; but the control to which he 
was subject was, that the union of his societies with him was 


perfectly voluntary; so that over them he could have no 
influence at all but what was founded upon character, and 
public spirit, and fatherly affection. The power which he 
exercised has 'descended to the Conference of preachers ; and, 
as in his case, this has been often very absurdly complained 
of, as though it were parallel to the power of civil government, 
or to that of an established Church, supported by statutes 
and the civil arm. But this power, like his, is moral influ- 
ence only, founded upon the pastoral character, and can exist 
only upon the basis of the confidence inspired by the fact of 
its generally just and salutary exercise among a people who 
neither are nor can be under any compulsion. 

On the charge of credulity, it may be observed, that Mr. 
"Wesley lived in an age in which he thought men in danger 
of believing too little, rather than too much; and his belief 
in apparitions is at least no proof of a credulousness peculiar 
to himself. With respect to the "strange, accounts" which 
he inserted in his Magazine — and strange indeed some of them 
were — it has been falsely assumed that he himself believed 
them entirely. This is not true. He frequently remarks, 
that he gives no opinion, or that " he knows not what to make 
of the account," or that " he leaves every one to form his 
own judgment concerning it." He met with those relations 
in reading, or received them from persons deemed by him 
credible ; and he put them on record, as facts reported to 
have happened. Now, as to an unbeliever, one sees not what 
sound objection he can make to that being recorded which 
has commanded the faith of others; for, as a part of the his- 
tory of human opinions, such accounts are curious, and have 
their use. It neither followed that the editor of the work 
believed every account, nor that his readers should consider it 
true because it was printed. It was- for them to judge of 
the evidence on which the relation stood. Many of these 
accounts, however, Mr. Wesley did credit, because he thought 
that they stood on credible testimony ; and he published 
them for that very purpose for which he believed they were 
permitted to occur — to confirm the faith of men in an invis- 
ible state, and in the immortality of the soul. These were 
his motives for inserting such articles in his Magazine ; and 
to the censure which has been passed upon him on this 
account, may be opposed the words of the learned Dr. Henry 


More, in his Tetter to Glanville, the author of "Sadducismm 
Triumphatus :" " Wherefore, let the small philosophic Sir 
Toplings of this present age deride as much as they will, 
those that lay out their pains in committing to writing cer- 
tain well-attested stories of apparitions do real service to true 
religion and sound philosophy; and they most effectually con- 
tribute to the confounding of infidelity and atheism, even in 
the judgment of the atheists themselves, who are as much 
afraid of the truth of these stories as an ape is of a whip, and 
therefore force themselves with might and main to disbelieve 
them, by reason of the dreadful consequence of them, as to 
themselves." It is sensibly observed by Jortin, in his 
remarks on the diabolical possessions in the age of our Lord, 
that " one reason for which Divine Providence should suffer 
evil spirits to exert their malignant powers at that time might 
be, to give a check to Sadducism among the Jews, and athe- 
ism among the Gentiles; and to remove, in some measure, 
these two great impediments to the reception of the gospel." 
For moral uses, supernatural visitations may have been 
allowed in subsequent ages ; and he who believes in them 
only spreads their moral the farther by giving them publicity. 
Before such a person can be fairly censured, the ground of 
his faith ought to be disproved ; for he only acts consistently 
with that faith. This task would, however, prove somewhat 

Mr. Wesley was a voluminous writer; and as he was one 
of the great instruments in reviving the spirit of religion in 
these lands, so he led the way in those praiseworthy attempts 
which have been made to diffuse useful information of every 
kind, and to smooth the path of knowledge to the middle and 
lower ranks of society. Besides books on religious subjects, 
he published many small and cheap treatises on various 
branches of science ; plain and excellent grammars of the 
dead languages ; expurgated editions of the classic authors ; 
histories, civil and ecclesiastical ; and numerous abridgments 
of important works.* 

* Mr. Wesley's principal writings are, his translation of the New 
Testament, with Explanatory Notes, quarto ; his Journals, six vol 
umes, duodecimo ; his Sermons, nine volumes, duodecimo ; his Appeal 
to Men of Reason and Religion ; his Defence of the Doctrine of Orig- 
inal Sin, in answer to Dr. Taylor; his answers to Mr. Church, and 


It is his especial praise, that he took an early part in 
denouncing the iniquities of the African slave-trade, and in 
arousing the conscience of the nation on the subject. In 
Bristol, at that time a dark den of slave-traders, he courage- 
ously preached openly against it, defying the rage of the 
slave-merchants and the mob ; and his spirited and ably-rea- 
soned tract on slavery continues to be admired and quoted to 
the present time. It may be -added, that one of the last 
letters he ever wrote was to Mr. Wilberforce, exhorting him to 
perseverance in a work of which he was one of the leading 
instruments — the effecting the abolition of the traffic in the 
nerves and blood of man. 

At the time of Mr. Wesley's death, the number of mem- 
bers in connection with him in Europe, America, and the 
West India islands, was 80,000. At the last Conference, 
1831, the numbers returned were, in Great Britain, 249,119; 
in Ireland, 22,470; in the Foreign Missions, 42,743; total, 
314,332, exclusive of more than half a million of persons in 
the societies in the States of America. As to the field of 
labor at home, the number of circuits in the United King- 
dom was, at the time of his death, 115. At present they 
are 408. The number of Mission Stations was 8 in the West 
Indies, and 8 in British America. At present there are 156. 
The number of preachers left by him was 312. It is now 
992, in the United Kingdom; and 187 in the Foreign Mis- 
sions. In the United States of America the number of 
preachers is 2010; and in the Canadian Church, 61.* 

Bishops Lavington and Warburton ; and his Predestination Calmly 
Considered ; besides many smaller tracts on various important sub- 
jects. His Works were published by himself in thirty-two volumes, 
duodecimo, in the year 1771. An edition of them in fourteen large 
octavo volumes has just been completed ; with bis work on the New 
Testament in two volumes of the same size. In addition to his origi- 
nal compositions, Mr. Wesley published upwards of a hundred and 
twenty different works, mostly abridged from other authors; among 
which are grammars in five different languages ; the Christian Li- 
brary, in fifty duodecimo volumes ; thirteen volumes of the Arminian 
Magazine; a History of England, and a general Ecclesiastical His- 
tory, in four volumes each ; a Compendium of Natural Philosophy, 
in five volumes ; and an Exposition of the Old Testament, in three 
quarto volumes. 

[* The Southern Methodist Almanao for 1857 reports for the pre- 



Such have Been the results of the labors of this great and 
good man. Whether they are still to diffuse a hallowing 
influence through the country, and convey the blessings of 
Christianity to heathen lands with the same rapidity and 
with the same vigor, will, under the Divine blessing, depend 
upon those who have received from him the trust of a system 
of religious agency, to be employed with the same singleness 
of heart, the sanie benevolent zeal for the spiritual benefit of 
mankind, and the same dependence upon the Holy Spirit. I 
know not that it bears upon it any marks of decay, although 
it may require to be accommodated in a few particulars to the 
new circumstances with which it is surrounded. The doc- 
trinal views which Mr. Wesley held were, probably, never 
better understood, or more accurately stated, in the discourses 
of the preachers ; and the moral discipline of the body, in all 
its essential parts, was never more cordially approved by the 
people generally, or enforced with greater faithfulness by their 
pastors. Very numerous are the converts who are every 
year won from the world, brought under religious influence, 
and placed in the enjoyment of means and ordinances favora- 
ble to their growth in religious knowledge and holy habits; 

ceding year in the British Conference, 452 circuits, 1182 travelling 
preachers, 263,834 full members and 17,813 probationary members: 
Irish Conference, 74 circuits, 128 travelling preachers, 18,749 mem- 
bers: French Conference, 12 circuits, 31 travelling preachers, 1178 
members: Canada Conference, 192 circuits, 316 travelling preachers, 
37,885 members : East British American Conference, 70 circuits, 88 
travelling preachers, 13,136 members: Australian Conference, 116 
travelling preachers, 19,897 full and 1958 probationary members: 
Foreign Missions, exclusive of those in the Foreign Conferences, 137 
circuits, 200 travelling preachers, 64,999 full and 2868 probationary 
members, making a total of 2061 travelling preachers and 442,322 
communicants in the British Wesleyan Church and its Associated 
Bodies. Its Missionary revenue for 1855 amounted to £119,122 4s. 9d. 
From the same authority it appears that other branches of British 
Wesleyan Methodism number 168,372 members and a corresponding 
number of ministers, travelling and local. The Methodist Churches 
in the United States number more than a million and a half members, 
and nearly 20,000 ministers, travelling and local. See page 217. It 
thus appears that there are now over two million of communicants in 
the various Methodist Churches, and perhaps ten millions of people 
who receive from them religious instruction. What a cause for 
gratitude! and what a fearful responsibility! — T. O. S.] 


and many are constantly passing into eternity, of whose "good 
hope through grace" the testimony is in the highest degree 
satisfactory. If Methodism continue in vigor and purity *o 
future ages, it will still be associated with the name of its 
founder, and encircle his memory with increasing lustre; 'and 
if it should fall into the formality and decays which have 
proved the lot of many other religious bodies, he will not lose 
his reward. Still a glorious harvest of saved souls is laid up 
in the heavenly garner, which will be his "rejoicing in the 
day of the Lord;" whilst the indirect influence of his labors 
upon the other religious bodies and institutions of the country 
will justly entitle him to be considered as one of the most 
honored instruments of reviving and extending the influence 
of religion that, since the time of the apostles, have been 
raised up by the providence of God. 










Nec semper feriet quodounque minabitur arcus.— Horat. 


4 ■» » » 





Introductory Note v 

Introduction 7 

Mr. Southey's Theological Qualifications 13 

Mr. Southey's False Philosophy 94 

Enthusiasm 88 

Assurance 45 

Sudden Conversions 64 

Enthusiastic Extravagances , 77 

Separation from the Church 101 

Miscellaneous Strictures and Corrections 127 

Misrepresentations of Mr. Wesley's Character corrected.. 151 

Appendix 171 


ntr0b»ct0rg itaf*- 

Mr. Watson's valuable critique on Southey's Life of 
"Wesley has passed through a number of editions in England 
and America, but it has by no means obtained the circulation 
to which it is entitled by its acknowledged merits. It is not, 
perhaps, generally known that while it exposes the false phi- 
losophy of the poet-biographer of Wesley, and refutes his 
erroneous statements in a most masterly and triumphant man- 
ner, it furnishes an antidote to almost every thing worth 
noticing in the numerous misrepresentations of " Wesley and 
Methodism," learned and ignorant, philosophical and vulgar, 
from Bishops Lavington and Warburton down to Dr. Pusey 
and Isaac Taylor — not to mention their humble imitators, on 
both sides of the Atlantic, who have labored in the same 
vocation, though in a much lower grade, and with a much 
greater disregard of the claims of truth and righteousness. 
It is admitted that bigots and slanderers of the latter type are 
not likely to be affected by a calm appeal to reason and facts; 
but then it may well be asked whether they can be reached 
by any methods. We suppose they oannot — that is, to any 
advantage. It is not for them that the present work is re- 
published : it is for candid persons who may wish to be in 
circumstances to judge for themselves concerning a question 


confessedly* of no trivial importance. "We are not greatly 
concerned what they read, or how much they read, in opposi- 
tion to Methodists and Methodism, provided they will look 
into the system itself, survey the lives of those who have been 
devoted to its propagation, and give the defenders of both a 
candid hearing. Truth and virtue shine the brighter from 
the hard rubbing they receive — of this, the history of Method- 
ism furnishes illustrations the most striking and satisfactory. 

It is understood that Southey acknowledged the force of 
Mr. Watson's reasoning in the "Observations," and modified 
his views in relation to Mr. Wesley. It is said that he was 
about to issue an amended edition of his Life of Wesley, 
about the time the affliction came upon him which terminated 
his literary labors; but that the modifications of the work 
were suppressed by his son, a bigoted Churchman, on whom 
the responsibility of its publication was devolved. 

As there are various matters of considerable importance to 
the right understanding of Mr. Wesley's character and career, 
lying outside of Mr. Watson's plan in his admirable biogra- 
phy, and forming the staple materials of the present work, it 
is suggested that the one ought to be read in immediate con- 
nection with the other. Indeed, in the last London edition, 
from which our reprint is taken, both works are paged and 
bound as one volume. A few notes have been added in the 
present edition, for reasons which will be sufficiently obvious 

to the reader. 

Thomas 0. Summers. 
Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 15, 1856. 


The Wesjeyan Methodists have, in most cases, been assailed 
by a violence so blind and illiberal, that the writers who have 
chosen to be thus distinguished have sufficiently answered 
themselves. A few, and only a few, defences of the conduct 
and opinions of Mr. Wesley and his followers have therefore 
been published. The time of those best qualified for such 
services has been better employed in works of active piety 
and benevolence. They have held on their way "through 
evil report and good report/' thinking it enough that, by the 
writings of their founder, and other subsequent publications, 
all candid persons might acquaint themselves with their views 
of Christianity j and that a people spread throughout the land 
presented points of observation sufficiently numerous to enable 
the unprejudiced to form an accurate estimate of their charac- 
ter and influence. 

Mr. Southey's Life of the venerable founder of Methodism 
preseuts itself under another aspect. It is not a hasty pro- 
duction, and it betrays no want of temper. The facts and 
incidents which make up the life and history of the remarka- 
ble man of whom he has somewhat strangely become the 
biographer, have been collected with diligence; and the nar- 
rative is creditable to his literary character. He has the higher 
praise of considerable candor — candor exercised on. subjects 
which presented temptations to more frequent sarcasm and 
censure, had he aimed at gratifying the prejudices and feelings 
of a great number of his readers ; and he has ventured to say 
more in praise of the character and public usefulness of Mr. 
Wesley, than will be found in most publications of the kind ; 
12 (7) 


not emanating from persons connected with the Wesleyan 
society. Notwithstanding this general candor, and, as I be- 
lieve, intended impartiality, there are still great objections to 
the. book. The Wesley of Mr. Southey is not, in several of 
its most important characteristics, Mr. Wesley himself; and 
the picture of Methodism which he has drawn is not just, 
either in tone or composition. The impression made by the 
whole is indeed equally as unfavorable to Christianity itself, 
as to the. views of that particular society through which some 
of its vital principles are assaulted; and it is as Christians, 
quite as much as a religious body, that the Methodists ought 
to be dissatisfied with it. By them panegyric was not wished: 
there is more of justice and fairness than was hoped, consid- 
ering the quarter from which the work was to emanate; and 
what is defective and perverted may be charitably imputed, 
less to the intention of the writer, than to his total want 
of qualifications for the undertaking. The Life of Wesley 
was not a subject for the pen of Southey; and for want of 
theological qualifications, and the illuminations which a spirit- 
ual mind imparts, both Christianity and some of its brightest 
ornaments have received but partial justice at his hands. 

Had the biographer been either less or more acquainted 
with theological subjects, his work would have borne a charac- 
ter more decided : it would have J3een better or worse; and, 
in either form, more acceptable to all parties. It would have 
done more good, or less mischief. As it is, it has a singularly 
hybridous character. It is marked with inconsistencies, and 
propositions which neutralize each other as to any good effect, 
and yet retain activity enough to do injury. Whatever Mr. 
Wesley's views may have been, true religion itself, if the Church 
of England has rightly exhibited it in her formularies, and in 
the writings of her greatest divines, is very incautiously and 
generally resolved into enthusiasm, and other natural causes; 
and every excitement of the feelings which may appear new 
and irregular to a cold and torpid formality has a ready desig- 
nation in the equally undefined term fanaticism. There are, it 
is true, occasional admissions on these subjects, which indicate 
respect and veneration for what is sacred; but they seem often 
to be used only as a convenient medium through which to 
convey impressions of a contrary kind with greater force. 
That this was not always intended, will be cheerfully admit- 


ted : but if any thing, more than experience has already 
furnished, were necessary to show the mischievousness of 
writius on subjects of religion without steady and well- 
digest cd principles, it would be supplied by this publication. 
On all such tuples Mr. Southey is extremely flippant and 
assuming, without any qualification to support his pretensions. 
Educated, as it is reported, in the Socinian school, and after- 
wards allured farther from the truth by the glare of a still 
more delusive philosophy, he. has corrected many of his former 
errors, and is now professedly an orthodox member of the 
Church of England. I am happy to see him in that fold. It 
would be illiberal to remember the aberrations of his youth, 
and not to allow him the praise of having for several years 
emphived his talents well and usefully. His is, evidently, an 
amiable and elevated, as well as a highly cultivated, mind; 
but his views are yet too dim, and his theological, attainments 
far too scant v, to give him a title to all that authority which 
he claims on many of those vital and solemn subjects which 
he decides with so censurable a dogmatism. 

It is much to be regretted that no general principles appear 
to have been laid down by Mr. Southey, to guide him in 
his estimate of Mr. Wesley's conduct and character. He is 
constantly vacillating between the philosopher and the Chris- 
tian ; but, unhappily, the tendency to philosophize most fre- 
quently predominates. The natural causes of every movement 
of the soul, and of every singularity in the conduct, of Mr. 
Wesley and' his followers, are eagerly sought, and abundantly 
elaborated. Hevotioual ardor is Yesolved into constitutional 
temperament; religious joys and depressions, into buoyancy 
of the spirits, and the influence of disease; Mr. Wesley's 
selection of the means of usefulness, into the. blind impulse 
of surrounding circumstances; his active zeal, into ambition; 
the great effects of his preaching, into his eloquence, and the 
opportune occurrence of a new contagions disease; his enter- 
prise, into a consciousness of his own powers; and his want 
of clerical regularity, into his natural unsubmissiveness of 
mind. Some of these points shall be examined in the sequel; 
but this mode of determining such questions savors too much. 
of the school from which we trust Mr. Southey is on many 
great points lyqipily rescued; ami it implies too great a con- 
cession to the inlidel and superficial philosophy of the day, of 

A 2 


the evil tendency of which, when otherwise applied, he has a 
deep conviction. He has resorted to weapons which may as 
easily be wielded against Christianity as against Methodism; 
and against every distinguished character in the annals of the 
Church of Christ, as against Mr. Wesley. 

Is Mr. Southey a believer in Christianity ? If so, waiving 
for the present a minuter consideration of the following 
points, he must believe in the providential designation of dis- 
tinguished characters to produce great and beneficial effects 
upon society; he must, believe in the influence of the Holy 
Spirit upon the minds of men, exciting them to their duty, 
and assisting them in it ; he must believe that to renew a 
corrupt heart, and to give real effect to the Christian ministry, 
is the work of Grod, though carried on by human agents. He 
is not a Christian if he believes not these doctrines; he is not 
a Churchman ; his Christianity is a name, and his profession 
of attachment to the national Church a mere matter of poli- 
tical convenience. But if, in reality, he admits such truths, 
they were suffered to be often absent from his mind, or to be 
frequently confused with the lingering traces of his former 
erratic sentiments, when he apptie'd himself to determine 'the 
questions which presented themselves for discussion in the 
course of his researches into Methodism. 

Another cause of the wavering and erring judgment which 
he forms of Mr. Wesley, though far less blamable, is, that 
when he assumes something of the character of a Christian 
in the view of a case, -it is not so much of a Christian gene- 
rally, as of a bigoted advocate of the order and discipline of 
the Church of England. The religious character and motives 
of Mr. Wesley are in question ; but surely the order and rule 
of any Church, however excellent, are not the standard By 
which either of these can be determined. That standard is 
to be found in the principles of our common Christianity. 
The order of a Church may have been violated by an irregu- 
larity which it does not allow. ,The fault may have been, that 
Mr. Wesley's zeal was too expansive, or that the rule which 
his zeal violated was too contracted; but these are distinct 
considerations, and are not surely to influence the judgment 
which is to be pronounced upon his general character and 
motives. Mr. Wesley's Christianity must be tried by other 
laws, and can only be determined by the Bible itself. Mo- 


deru times cannot exhibit a character in which all the great 
and all the graceful virtues of our religion were more fully 
embodied, and, through a long life, more vividly realized, than 
in the founder of Methodism. They have not presented a 
more laborious or a more Successful minister of Christ. On 
what principle, then, is he ceaselessly charged with ambition, 
and the love of power, as the leading, though sometimes the 
unconscious, motives of his actions ? Why does Mr. Southey 
delight to rake into the corruption of our general nature, to 
stain the lustre and dissipate the fragrance of the eminent 
virtues of this distinguished man, as though those virtues 
must necessarily have struck root into that corruption as their 
soil, and have drawn from it a sickly exuberance, and a dele- 
terious and earthly odor? Where virtues so eminent were 
accredited by evidence so palpable, why has Mr. Southey, in 
so many instances, suffered himself to be seduced by a paltry 
philosophy which resolves all virtue into selfishness, or more 
properly into vice itself; and in others, determined motives 
by a rule drawn from party predilections, to the neglect of 
those more favorable decisions which the general Christian 
rule would have supplied ? Mr. Southey may say that the 
faults charged are infirmities, from which the best of men are 
not exempt. But ambition, taken in the generally-received 
sense, as Mr. Southey uses the term, is not an infirmity. It 
is a vice, utterly incompatible with the spirit and temper of a 
real Christian ; and if he did not intend very greatly to lower 
Mr. Wesley's character by the charge, as indeed it seems but 
fair to acknowledge, this only proves that Mr. Southey has 
very low and inadequate notions of real Christianity itself. 
lie either trifles with Mr. Wesley's character, or with the 
character of scriptural religion. 

Souihey s Lite of Wesley is not a mere narrative of the 
incidents which occurred in the career of that individual 
himself, and of the rise, progress, and opinions of the reli- 
gions body of which he was the founder. The author passes 
judgment on every thing a* it occurs ; and, not unfrequently, 
fco marshals his facts, by an artful selection, as to give the 
greater plausibility to his censures, for adopting a course of 
free remark he is not to be censured ; but he that judges 
another must be content to be judged himself. The opinions 
of biographers and historians, who are supposed to be calm. 


and unprejudiced observers of persons and events, respecting 
which sufficient time has elapsed to allow a judgment to be 
formed unbiased by partial impressions, often form the most 
instructive part of their writings. We read works of this 
kind, not merely for the facts they contain, but for the sake 
of the reflections of those who profess to have studied their 
subject; and willingly put ourselves under the guidance of a 
superior mind for the discovery of those lessons which Provi- 
dence designed to teach mankind by the occasional introduc- 
tion of great and singular characters, and the permission of 
important events, upon the stage of our world. Unless, how- 
ever, we have taken the resolution of submitting our judg- 
ments implicitly to every writer who undertakes to think for 
the public, we naturally inquire into the competency of an 
author for so high an office; and to this test Mr. Southey 
must be subjected. 

The question, however, is not whether he had habits suffi- 
ciently diligent to collect the facts necessary for fairly exhibit- 
ing the character of Mr. Wesley and of Metkodisni ; nor 
whether he had the ability to work them into clear and 
spirited narrative. Neither will be denied ; but these are 
minor considerations. He has not contented himself with 
narrative : he has added "reflections to his tale;" and both as 
a theologist, and an advocate of the national Church, he has 
assumed the critic and the censor. His qualifications under 
these characters must, therefore, be considered. 






The leading points on which Mr. Southey, as the biogra- 
pher of Mr. Wesley, was called to express a judgment were, 
his religious character, his doctrines, his labors as a minister, 
and their results. All these evidently involve theological 
principles, and with ihem Mr. Southey's mind is but slenderly 
furnished. Of this, the account he has given of Mr. Wes- 
ley's conversion is a pregnant example. 

It would be difficult to 'fix upon a more interesting and 
instructive moral spectacle than that which is presented by 
the progress of the mind of the founder of Methodism, 
through all its deep and serious agitations, doubts, difficulties, 
hopes, and fears, from his earliest religious awakenings, to 
the moment when he found that steadfast peace which never 
afterwards forsook him, but gave serenity to his countenance, 
and cheerfulness to his heart, to the last moment of a pro- 
longed life. Even in Mr. Southey's caricatured representa- 
tion, and in despite of the frequent recurrence of flippant and 
fatuous observations, it has an awe which frowns down ridi- 
cule, or kindles indignation at such an intrusion on scenes so 
hallowed. The heart is not to be envied, whatever affecta- 



tion of philosophy it may put on, which can suffer itself to be 
so far misled by those minor circumstances of the case which, 
by forgetting times and circumstances, may appear somewhat 
singular and extravagant, as to overlook those great consid- 
erations which force themselves upon all but the lightest 
minds, when the history of a mind so impressed and influ- 
enced is candidly and honestly laid open. His were inward 
conflicts, which many besides have felt, but which are seldom 
brought forth from the recesses of the bosoms they have so 
variously agitated. Yet they are not cases of merely indivi- 
dual concern. We all have errors to be dissipated, a natural 
corruption to be overcome, a peace to make with God, a rela- 
tion to an eternal world to render sure or hopeful. The 
careless may smile at accounts of conversion ; but the serious 
mind which, in the wilderness of its thoughts, eagerly looks 
out for a guiding hand and a directive star, cannot be unin- 
terested in such examples. Others are seen, in the early 
stages of religious experience, toiling in the same bewildered 
paths as ourselves ; and the process of their deliverance points 
out that desired track which may leacl us also into the light 
and peace for which we seek. To the rule of the Holy Scrip- 
tures such accounts of individual conversion are to be care- 
fully subordinated; but they are often instructive and invalu- 
able comments upon them, because they are the realizations 
of its moral theory. 

Mr. Wesley has made the full disclosure ; and it is the 
only true key to his theological system, and to his public 
conduct. His conversion is given in sufficient detail by Mr. 
Southey, though evidently above his comprehension. Im- 
pressed in his youth with a religious concern, he resorted to 
books and to men for an answer to a question which, in spite 
of trifling, will, at some time or other, intrude itself upon 
every human heart : " What shall I do to be saved 1" 
Happy if it were treated as seriously by all ! -'He needed 
nothing, and yet was not happy. He had no quarrel with 
the world, and yet the world could not satisfy him. He 
stood in awe of God, convinced that he was living in a state 
of guilt and danger. He was afraid of death, because he had 
no lively hope of happiness beyond it. He redoubled his 
attention to the services of the Churah ; he read the Scrip- 
tures and the Fathers ; he adopted the fasts and mortifications 


of former times ; he resorted to every book of credit on prac- 
tical and spiritual religion. In the eagerness and honesty 
of his inquiries, he walked many miles on foot to converse 
with a man reputed eminently religious; he abounded in 
works of zeal and charity; yet, after all, he obtained no solid 
peace. Whilst others thought him righteous overmuch, he 
was daily discovering new defects in his duties, and becoming 
better acquainted with his heart ; he felt even an increased 
fear of death ; and he was not delivered from the dominion 
of inward corruptions, though his life was unblamable. He 
had early resorted to the Calvinistic divines ; and though in 
some of their writings he might have found those very views 
of faith which afterwards administered to his deliverance and 
comfort, they were mixed up with a S} T stem at which he 
■revolted, and afterwards strenuously opposed, though on 
other and better grounds than he at that time assumed. 
This revulsion of mind threw him more fully under the influ- 
ence of the writings of Taylor, Kempis, and Law, which, 
however excellent, afforded him little help in the point most 
concerning to him, his justification before God; for, though 
admirably adapted to mature a^nd perfect religion in the heart 
and life, they are greatly defective in those views of faith, 
and the atonement on which it rests as its proper object, 
which alone can give peace to a penitent and troubled spirit. 
The mystic writers were next resorted to; but these .only 
increased his "perplexities and entanglements." His sincere 
zeal led him to Georgia. On his passage he met with some 
pious Moravians, and, impressed by their simplicity and 
devotedness, he maintained an affectionate intercourse with 
them all the time he remained in America; and from their 
conversation, different views of himself, and of the means 
by which man is justified before his God, broke in upon his 
mind. A mind so sincere \p its search for truth, though 
long exposed to trial, could not be forsaken. The result 
of that overruling providence which led him to make ac- 
quaintance with these excellent men, shall be given in his 
own words : 

" It is now two years and almost four months since I left 
my native country, in order to teach the Georgian Indians 
the nature of Christianity. But what have I learnt myself 
meantime ? Why — what I the least of all suspected — that 


I, who went fo America to convert others, was never myself 
converted to God. 'I am not mad/ though I thus speak; 
but 'I speak the words of truth and soberness;' if haply 
some of those who still dream may awake, and see that as I 
am, so are they. Are they read in philosophy ? -So was I. 
In ancient or modern tongues ? So was I also. Are they 
versed in the science of divinity? I, too, have studied it 
many years. Can they talk fluently upon spiritual things ? 
The very same could I do. Are they plenteous in alms ? 
Behold, I gave ' all my goods to feed the poor/ Do they 
give of their labor, as well as their substance ? I have 
labored more abundantly. Are they willing to suffer for 
their brethren ? I have thrown up my friends, reputation, 
ease, country. I have put my life in my hand, wandering 
into strange la^ds ; I have given my body to be devoured by 
the deep, parched up with heat, consumed by toil and weari- 
ness, or whatsoever God shall please to bring upon me. But 
does all this (be it more or less, it matters not) make me 
acceptable to God ? Does all I ever did or can know, say, 
give, do, or suffer, justify me in his sight ? If the oracles of 
God are true, if we are still to abide by ' the law and testi- 
mony/ all these things, though when ennobled by faith in 
Christ they are holy, and just, and good, yet without, are 
dung and dross. Thus, then, have I learned, in the ends of 
the earth, that my whole heart is altogether corrupt and 
abominable, and, -consequently, my whole life; that my own 
works, my own sufferings, my own righteousness, are so far 
from reconciling me to an offended God, so far from making 
an atonement for the least of those sins which are more in 
number than the hairs of my head, that the most specious of 
them need an atonement themselves; that, having the sen- 
fence of death in my heart, and nothing in or of myself to 
plead, I have no hope but {j^hat of being justified freely 
' through the redemption that is in Jesus' — but that if I 
seek I shall find Christ, and be found in him. If it be said 
that I have faith, (for many such things have I heard from 
many miserable comforters,) I answer, So have the devils a 
sort of faith ; but still they are strangers to the covenant of 
promise. The faith I want is a sure trust and confidence in 
God, that through, the merits of Christ my sins are forgiven, 
and I reconciled to the favor of God. I want that faith 


which do one can have without knowing that he hath it, 
though many imagine they have it who have it not; 'for 
whosoever hath it is ' freed from sin ; the whole body of sin 
is destroyed ' in him ; he is freed from fear, l having peace 
with God through Christ, and rejoicing in hope of ifye glory 
of God.' And he is freed from doubt, having the love of 
God shed abroad in his heart, through the Holy Ghost which 
is given unto him, which ' Spirit itself beareth witness with 
his spirit, that he is a child of God/ " 

This faith he sought and found, with its fruits, dominion 
over sin, and peace, and joy; and from that moment, till he 
ended his career of shame and glory, he preached it to others 
with the confidence of one who had " the witness in himself," 
and with that fulness of sympathy for all who wandered in 
paths of darkness and distress, which was inspired by the 
recollection of his own former anxieties. 

This account, with the circumstances connected with it, 
occupies many pages in Mr. Southey's narrative; and the 
clear and ample manner in which it is presented, may possibly 
lead many persons to a much better conclusion than he him- 
self, judging from his interspersed remarks, appears to have 
drawn from it. I have introduced it here, because it will 
enable the "reader to judge of Mr. Southey's views of reli- 
gion. The following theological points are included in this 
account of Mr. Wesley's conversion : 1. That the human 
nature is wholly corrupt, and its practice sinful, until an 
entire moral change is wrought in the heart by the power of 
God. The conviction of this truth was the ground of Mr. 
"Wesley's inward disquiet, and the reason of his earnest 
prayers and efforts. 2. That the sins of men expose them to 
the wrath of God, though there be no marked irregularity in 
their conduct ; and that the Divine wrath can only be escaped 
by forgiveness. This was the ground of his apprehensions 
and fears of death, as being conscious of sin and unassured 
of pardon. 3. That no works of righteousness performed, or 
of mortification endured, are greunds of dependence for par- 
don, because they are not reasons on which we can urge that 
act of grace before God. They are fruits meet for repent- 
ance; the necessary results of penitence, sincerity, and of 
that faith which, admitting the truth of the threatenings of 
the Divine law, alarms the conscience, and connects the 


apprehension of punishment with sin; but they' are nothing 
more. It was by depending on these acts, as the means of 
reconciliation with God, without a direct and exclusive exer- 
cise of trust in the Divine atonement made for the sins of men, 
which produced so much effort on his part, and so little suc- 
cess in obtaining support for his agitated mind. 4. That 
such a trust, exercised by one who, having the sentence of 
condemnation in his conscience, and having nothing in or 
from himself to plead, and placing all his hope in "being 
justified freely by the grace of God, through the redemption 
that is in Jesus," is the faith which is imputed to him for 
righteousness ; and upon its exercise he receives the forgive- 
ness of sins, and an assurance of God's favor, through the 
Holy Spirit, and is then at peace with God and with himself. 
It is thus that Mr. Wesley's personal experience connects 
itself with several great points of theological doctrine ; but 
Mr. Southey has never inquired whether they are true or false. 
If he thinks them true, the manner in which he has treated 
Mr. Wesley's early history is unworthy of a serious and reli- 
gious man; if false, then the coloring which he has thrown 
over this part of Mr. Wesley's life is in character. It has in 
it all the guile, though not the usual grossness, of infidelity. 
The truth appears to be, that Mr. Southey gave himself no 
concern to ascertain whether these principles were ^rue or 
false. For Christianity he is rtow an advocate, and for the 
Church of Ensjand, too : but under either character he ou°;ht 
to have known that the doctrines which Mr. Wesley's con- 
version implies are the doctrines of both. The first point 
respects the corruption of human nature ; and he will per- 
haps ask here, as in another part of his work, "where Wes- 
ley obtained his notions on the subject. " The answer is, that 
as a Christian he obtained them from Him who said, " They 
that are in the flesh," they in whom a regenerating change 
has not taken placfe, " cannot please God;" and, as abetter 
instructed Churchman than Mr. Southey, from the article 
which declares, " that man of his own nature is inclined to 
evil, and that continually." Mr. Wesley found himself under 
guilt, and had alarms as to his state after death. All this 
may be resolved- into an "ascetic disposition" and "nervous 
affection;" but it is surely a momentous inquiry, which every 
man ought to make 7 whether, whilst unregenerated and un- 


pardoned, he has any just hope of a future felicity. If Mr. 
Southey will study the excellent doctrine of the Church of 
which he now professes to be a member, he will not find the 
subject treated in so light a manner. He will be taught not 
only "to acknowledge," but to "bewail, his manifold sins," 
and that because they have " most justly provoked the Divine 
wrath and indignation" against him. He may think the doc- 
trine of justification by faith fanatical, yet it was not until 
Mr. Wesley's acquaintance. with the Moravians that he came 
fully to understand the views taken of this subject by the 
very Church of which he was a clergyman ; and his mind was 
never so fully imbued with the letter and spirit of the article 
in which she has so truly interpreted St. Paul, as when he 
learned from Peter Bbhler, almost in the words of the article 
itself, that "we are justified by faith only," and that this is 
a most "wholesome doctrine." As to the doctrine of assur- 
ance, on which Mr. Southey has bestowed so many philosophic 
solutions, I shall offer a few remarks in another place ; but 
for the change in Mr. Wesley's feelings after he became 
acquainted with the " doctrine of justification by faith only," 
and was enabled to exercise that trust in the merits of Christ 
"whereof cometh salvation," he might have found a better 
reason, had he either consulted St. Paul, who says, " We joy 
in God, by w"hom we have received the reconciliation j" or his 
own Church, which has emphatically declared that doctrine 
not only to be very wholesome, but also "very full of com- 

All the great principles implied in the account of Mr. 
Wesley's inquiries and impressions, until his conversion from 
a nominal or defective to a real Christianity, are then to be 
found, not only in the Scriptures, but in the formularies of 
that Church which, as Mr. Southey believes, rightly interprets 
their meaning. It may be added, that they are also found in 
the writings of the most distinguished divines of every 
orthodox Church, and in every age. Let us then examine 
how he has treated this interesting and eventful period of Mr. 
Wesley's life. 

The whol.e of those religious feelings to which we have 
adverted, whether of sorrow or of joy, fear or confidence, are 
resolved into constitutional habit, and enthusiasm. In enter- 
ing upon the subject, he observes, "He," Mr. Wesley, 


" applied hirnsel? to theological studies ; his devotional feel- 
ings, thus fostered, soon acquired the predominance in a 
frame of mind like his." The meaning of which is, that 
there was in Mr. Wesley's mind a constitutional adaptation to 
strong and singular devotional habits- and that as circum- 
stances were wanting to bring the principle into action, the 
study of theology occurred as the exciting cause. But if 
this passage should be thought in itself equivocal, the import 
of it is sufficiently explained in other parts of the work, 
which abounds in an offensive, arid more than semi-infidel, 
manner of thinking and speaking on these sacred subjects. 

"Voltaire," we are told, "labored in the cause of immo- 
-rality and unbelief;" Wesley, in that of "religious enthu- 
siasm." " Law is a powerful writer;, it is said that few books 
have ever made so many religious enthusiasts as his 'Chris- 
tian Perfection/ and his 'Serious Call.'" On Mr. Wesley's 
way from America to England, with a firmer conviction of his 
sinfulness and guilt than when he left his native country, 
and now taught that by faith alone he could obtain remission 
of sins, he was oppressed with the fear of death, and made 
the following observations on the state of his tnind, which 
Mr. Southey has quoted from his Journal : 

" Let us observe hereon : 1. That not one of those hours 
ought to pass out of my remembrance till I attain another 
manner of spirit, a spirit equally willing to glorify God by 
life or by death. 2. That whoever is uneasy on any account, 
(bodily pain alone excepted,) carries in himself his own con- 
viction that he is so far an unbeliever. Is. he uneasy at the 
apprehension of death? Then he believeth not that 'to die 
is gain/ At any of the events of life ? Then he hath not a 
firm belief that 'all things work together for' his 'good.' 
And if he bring the matter more close, he will always find, 
besides the general want of faith, every particular uneasiness 
is evidently owing to the want of some particular temper." 

This is a good subject for Mr. Southey's philosophy. He 
thinks there was no reason for these fears, and that Mr. 
Wesley's feelings might have been accounted for by referring 
to " the state of his pulse or stomach." But it does not ap- 
pear that his health was at all disordered; and if it had been, 
the solution can only prove satisfactory to those who either 
neglect to take the doctrines of Scripture into their consider- 


ation, or wilfully reject them. Is it surprising that a person 
on a sea-voyage should be impressed with his liability to 
danger? And is it not most natural, if any belief in G-od, 
and his own relations to an eternal world, exist in his mind, 
and if he is any thing more than a trifler in the concerns of 
his salvation, that he should , seriously examine, his degree of 
preparation for an event which no wise man will treat with 
indifference ? If the force of Mr. Wesley's reasoning on the 
fear of death, in the passage just quoted, has escaped Mr. 
Southey, it is because he hgjr not so carefully studied the New 
Testament as literature of another kind. He would other- 
wise have learned, that one of the great ends of the coming 
of Christ was, " to deliver them who had been all their 
lifetime subject to bondage through the fear of death;" and 
that an oppressive and servile apprehension of our last hour 
is utterly inconsistent with a true and lively faith in Him who 
is "the resurrection and the life." 

.Mr. Wesley, however, had discovered the possibility of 
this great deliverance; and for such a faith as might bring to 
his mind the comforting persuasion of the favor of God, at 
all times, and in all circumstances, he most earnestly and con- 
stantly prayed. What he sought, he found. But Mr. South- 
ey's dexterity never fails him ; and he can as easily detect 
the fallacy of Mr. Wesley's joys as of his sorrows, of his faith 
as of his fear. The account is cited from his Journal : 

11 1 felt I did trust in Christ alone for salvation; and an 
assurance was given me that he had taken away all my sins, 
even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death. 
But it was not long before the enemy suggested, 'Thisjjannot 
be faith,' " etc. Here Mr. Southey comes in : " How many 
a thought arising from instinctive logic, which is grounded on 
common sense, # has been fathered upon the personified prin- 
ciple of evil !" and thus gives sufficient indication of his 
religious system. We are not only told that this change from 
doubt to confidence, and from disquiet to peace, was, in the 
whole process, a delusion, carried on in opposition to common 
sense; which, however, would occasionally revolt, and throw 
in its counter plea of "instinctive logic;" but the ci-devant 
Socinian is suffered to come forth here without a veil. Mr. 
Wesley referred his subsequent visitation .of doubt " to the 
enemy;" but there is no such thing; what we call his temp- 


tations arise from the instinctive logic of ©ommon sense ; and 
the tempter, with whom our Lord conflicted forty days, — and 
the "god of this world/' whose agency is said by the apostle 
to have been so constantly employed to counteract the gospel, 
— and " the devil whom we arc to resist, that he may fly 
from us/' — and our " adversary the devil," to whose wiles we 
are exhorted to oppose a constant sobriety and vigilance, is', 
by a true Socinian interpretation, resolved into a personifica- 
tion — " the personified principle of evil !" 

Kut Mr. Southey also meets the case with logic, though I 
cannot call it the "instinctive logic of common sense." He 
would proves that on Mr. Wesley's own showing, his doctrine 
of assurance cannot be sustained. Mr. Wesley doubted, was 
assured, and doubted again. " Here," says Mr. Southey, 
triumphantly, " was a plain contradiction in terms ; an assur- 
ance which had not assured him." A true logic would have 
reminded him, that contraries may at different times be pre- 
dicated of the same thing without a contradiction. Mr. Wes- 
]ey does not say that he was assured, and not assured, at the 
same time; and as certainly as assurance may succeed to 
doubt, so may doubt follow assurance. But Mr. Southey has 
not been just to the case. Mr. Wesley does not affirm that 
he was unassured at any period after this. There may be 
^visitations of doubtful suggestion, which do not destroy the 
habit of assurance ; and this is what he in substance says, and 
no nlore. The rest is perversion, not logic. Even in the 
quotation which follows, Mr. Southey might have discovered 
this : " Now," says Mr. Wesley, " I was always conqueror." 
Nor were those agitations of mind of Ions: continuance. Mr. 
Wesley's Journal from this time presents the undisturbed 
picture of a mind calmly confiding in God, and animated and 
solaced with the fulness of faith and hope. The bendings of 
the tree under the wind, whilst the stem is yet tender, are 
surely no proof that it is uprooted : in its agitations it grasps 
the soil more, and owes to them its future firmness. 

From this manner of dealing with Mr. Wesley's early 
religious history, Mr. Southey' s unfitness to judge of his 
whole character, and of the work he was appointed by Provi- 
dence to perform, may be estimated; and one cannot but re- 
gret that a writer who presents himself often under very 
amiable views as to temper and candor, and who is so respect- 

southey' s LIFE OF WESLEY. 23 

able in literary ability, should be destitute of that knowledge, 
and of those principles, which alone could qualify him to 
write on subjects with respect to which his views will be 
greatly altered if ever he is made to understand that "the 
kingdom of God is not in word" only, "but in power." He 
will surely then comprehend that there is in the religion of 
the New Testament more than a sujblime doctrine, an ethical 
purity, and a theological system ; that it is intended to effect 
something deeper, more permanent and holy, than the excite- 
ment of a poetic sentimentalism ; that it makes provision for 
the pardon of human guilt, and the restoration of conscious 
friendship between man and his Maker; that it makes the 
promise of the Holy Spirit to all who sincerely ask his influ- 
ence; and that, under his agency, the heart is comforted and 
renewed, in order to the production of fruits of obedient 
righteousness. Mr. South ey ought, also, to have reflected 
that Mr. Wesley's conversion to what he, on the best grounds, 
believed to be a vital and efficient Christianity, was not an 
individual case, peculiar to himself. Take away the mere 
circumstances, and it is substantially the same process through 
which all have gone, whether the learned or unlearned good 
of every Church, and of every age. Had Mr. Southey been 
better acquainted with the writings of the best divines, and 
with religious biography, he would have known this. All 
the observations he has bestowed upon the conversion of Mr. 
Wesley lie, therefore, against conversion itself, for of the sin- 
cerity of Mr. Wesley he has no doubt; and the true question 
is, whether there is any such thing in fact as a process of 
moral recovery and renewal, carried on in the hearts of obe- 
dient men, by the agency of the Spirit of God, his word and 
his ordinances. Mr. Southey has not, I am persuaded, 
paused to consider the tremendous consequences of that 
negative which he has more than suggested. If he had, he 
would much rather have incurred the charge of enthusiasm 
hitflself, than been the means of misleading one immortal 
being on a point so fearfully momentous. He would not then 
have given his sanction to those wretched deceits in which the 
human heart is too prone to intrench itself, in order to resist 
the claims of Heaven ; nor would he have associated himself 
with infidels, in the attempt to cast ridicule upon subjects 
which affect the vital principles of the religion of the Bible. 




It may serve more fully to counteract the mischievous 
effects of Mr. Sou they' s book, to point out other instances in 
which he has betrayed equal incaution, and indulged in un- 
worthy sarcasms, at the expense of those great principles upon 
which religion is founded. I should call several passages 
insidious attacks upon the Christian faith, did I not conceive 
them to be the result of some blinding system of partial unbe- 
lief, which he has hastily taken up in exchange for former 
errors, and given to it the name of Christianity. A solemn 
examination of his religious opinions is an exercise for which 
I heartily wish him leisure, or a determination to make it. 
This necessary, and all-important act to himself, may be the 
more confidently urged upon him, because his views on many 
religious subjects are opposed not merely to what is peculiar 
in the tenets held by Mr. Wesley, but to opinions which are 
held in common by almost every Church in Christendom. 

In his introductory chapter, Mr. Southey indulges a sneer 
at all religious sects for supposing the'ir leaders raised up by 
a special providence. This might have escaped notice, from 
the gentle manner in which'it is expressed, were not his incre- 
dulity on this subject corroborated by the spirit of the whole 
book, in which there is a total absence of any admission 
of the agency of Providence in the appearance, labors, and 
the effects produced in the world by eminent men, though', 
when soberly applied, that doctrine affords ^a key to many 
particulars in their lives not otherwise easily explained. In 
many passages, also, other causes are resorted to, in order to 
account for such effects, as though for the express purpose of 
excluding the interposition of the Governor of the world in 
the affairs of men. The doctrine of providence may be ill 

sotjthey's LIFE OF WESLEY. 25 

applied; and its special favors and designation may be claimed 
for men very ill entitled to that distinction. One maybe a 
powerful agent of evil, permitted in the course of judicial' 
visitation : another may be .raised up to enlighten and benefit 
mankind. The result settles this point, without weakening 
that general principle of providential government on which 
even a false application rests. It can scarcely be now- a 
matter of doubt whether Loyola or "Luther was the agent 
designated by Providence for good. Providence must be 
allowed in both cases ; but in one there was permission of evil, 
in the other the appointment of means to benefit and bless 
mankind. There is a philosophy which, though not pro- 
fessedly infidel, excludes Almighty ^od, as much as possible 
without betraying itself, from the material universe, and sub- 
stitutes in his place, some sounding but unmeaning phrase, as 
" nature," or " the laws of nature." It is, however, a worse 
error when the same habit of thinking is applied to cases 
which fall under the moral government of God. The design 
of the Holy Scriptures is to bring the Almighty near to us # : 
the object of this wretched philosophy is to hide him from 
our sight by surrounding us with innumerable second causes, 
and ascribing to them an efficiency which, in themselves, they 
do not possess. The Scriptures and this philosophy cannot 
both be true ; and he who marks a providential design and 
interposition in almost every event, and carries truth into 
error by excess, thinks more nobly, and much more in the 
spirit of the sacred writings, than he who regards nature and 
the moral system as vast machines full of self-moving powers, 
and places the great Author at the head, as an idle spectator, 
who never interposes but when some great disorder is likely 
to happen, or when, having occurred, it is to be so rectified 
that all may again go on, self- animated and self-impelled. 

The quantum of positive infidelity in all such views is not 
small ; and though some professed Christians have given them 
th#ir sanction, they have been culpably negligent of the doc- 
trines of their own faith, or traitors to it. Yet even on their 
own principle of introducing a Divine agency only on great 
occasions, their sneers at the supposed providential designa- 
tion of such men as Wesley and Whitefield may be met with- 
out dismay. He who acknowledges a providential agency in 
the overthrow and elevation of human thrones ; in wars which 


abstract a few Jeagues <?f land from one power to add to the 
territories of another; in the invention of arts, which advance 
civilized life; and the diffusion of commerce, which gives 
the strength and intelligence of matured nations to those 
which are but in ,the infancy of the social state, and .yet 
denies it in the lives and actions of men to whom the refor- 
mation of corruptions in religion, and the revival of its true 
spirit, are, as instruments, owing ; in the case of those who 
have established and matured the Bible societies and the 
missionary societies of the day ; and in that of many modern 
missionaries, who are planting the imperishable principles of 
truth and godliness in -pagan countries, and laying there the 
wide and deep foundations of future order, happiness, and 
salvation — suffers his judgment to be influenced by very false 
measures of what is- great and what is little. He is like the 
peasant, whose dull attention is indeed raised to God when 
the storm of winter howls around his hut, and the thunder- 
cloud darts its bolt upon the neighboring tree, but sees him 
not in the showers of spring, and in that diffusive life which 
is taken up by every root, ascends every fibre, and on every 
stem forms, by a process at once the most beautiful and 
wonderful in nature, the fruit upon which millions are to sub- 
sist. Separate from their connection with the grand scheme 
of human recovery, (a point of 'view in which such reasoners 
do not consider them,) the revolutions of states and kingdoms 
do not present occasions for Divine interposition so great as 
they affect; and in comparison of the effects produced by 
the Wesleys, the Whitefields, the Eliots, and Brainerds, the 
Cokes and the Careys, the Buchanans and the Martyns, they 
are as the idle play or the mischievous pastime of children. 
By these men, whose names the world will not deign to 
register in its calendar, and to whom its historians will not 
devote one of their pages, have those great and peaceful revo- 
lutions been commenced, which will not end till " the earth 
shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord/' 
If, then, we are to acknowledge the interposition of Provi- 
dence in great affairs only, it is impossible to exclude it when 
such men come forth to purify and bless our world. 

But for all this, also, Mr. Southey has a ready solution, 
without referring to Providence at all : " In all stirring sea- 
sons, when any great changes are to be operated either in the 

southey's LIFE OF WESLEY. 27 

sphere of human knowledge or of human actions, agents 
enough are ready to appear ; and those men who become for 
posterity the great landmarks of their age, receive their bias 
from the times in which they live, and the circumstances in 
which they are placed, before they themselves give the, direct- 
ing impulse. " Here is another attempt to philosophize; but 
it is superficial and unsatisfactory. The object of it is to bar 
the notion that Divine Providence from time to time raises 
up and qualifies men to produce great effects upon society; 
and to explain the whole of their agency by effects mechani- 
cally produced upon them by the operation of circumstances 
" in stirring seasons." If ; this were the whole truth of the 
case, it would not serve Mr. Southey's argument. For as all 
men are not made great and active in these " stirring seasons/' 
those who become eminent must have something peculiar in 
their moral and intellectual constitution, to receive the impres- 
sion of " circumstances/' and to catch the spirit of the 
"times" in which they live; and their constitutional adapta- 
tion to these ends as certainly indicates the agency of Pro- 
vidence, as if they were endowed with the qualities requisite 
to produce great effects previously to the existence of the 
circumstances to which so much efficiency, is ascribed, and 
independent of them. But the argument is built upon an 
entirely false assumption, both as to Mr. Whitefield, with 
reference to whom it is used, and My. Wesley. The time in 
which they commenced their labors was no " stirring season," 
in a religious sense,. Mr. Southey himself has otherwise 
depicted it. They did not find religious energy; but, under 
God, they created it. They Vere not awakened to action 
because other men were stirring : they themselves awoke first, 
ind then aroused a slumbering world. In like manner it was 
not the " stirring season" of Christian zeal for the salvation 
of Pagans which kindled the love and tendered the sympa- 
thies of the founders of modern missions. The Christians 
of our country did not make them the friends of heathen 
lands; but the generous flame was excited among the friends 
of religion at home by their appeals, and roused to increased 
vig«r by their labors and triumphs. The friends of the negro 
slave, and the indignant opposers of the oppressions of Africa, 
owe not to the circumstances in which they were placed those 
high-toned feelings of justice, mercy, and national honor, 


which called ftwth their long-frustrated efforts. It was no 
" stirring season" of compassion for Africa, when they com- 
menced that career of humanity which has given immortality 
to the names of a Wilberforce, a Clarkson, and others. They 
brought, as to this great subject, the moral feeling of the 
country up to its proper standard ; and did not follow, but led 
the way. I deny not, indeed, a reaction of circumstances, 
when they have been created, upon the minds of such agents; 
but this, so far from weakening the argument as to provi- 
dence, only confirms it. It proves its agency, both in persons 
and circumstances; and such cases resemble those reciprocal 
adaptations in the material world, which so greatly confirm 
our belief in the existence of a supreme Creator, by enlarging, 
and rendering unequivocal, the proofs of contrivance and design. 
Mr. Southey has views of the Christian ministry as singu- 
larly defective, whether considered as. a Christian or a Church- 
man, as are his opinions on the subject of providence. It 
would seem, from these volumes, that he is not a believer in 
the direct influence of the Holy Spirit on the heart of man ; 
though, of course, he prays for it whenever he attends his 
church, and, I hope, without any softening mental periphra- 
sis. It would have read singularly, had he given us, upon 
his own principles', a paraphrase on that being "moved by 
the Holy Ghost," which every clergyman professes. It 
would, of course, have excluded all stirring of the affections 
in zeal for the glory of Christ, and compassion to the perish- 
ing souls of men ; all deep convictions of duty, and inward 
impulses to a work which, though involving a fearful responsi- 
bility, make the party feel thaf u a necessity is laid upon him" 
to undertake it. This was the "enthusiasm" of Wesley and 
Whitefield ; but he forgets that it is the enthusiasm which is 
embodied and glows in the Ordination Service of the Church 
of ]ipgland, one of the most solemn, impressive, and holy 
forms by which ministers were ever dedicated to the service 
of the gospel. Equally does he exclude Divine agency in the 
success of the ministry, as in the call to it ; and the effects 
produced by the preaching of the founders of Methodism find, 
of course, an -ample explanation in his ready and never-fail- 
ing philosophy. He allows no sanctification of the vessel for 
the Master's use; and no interposition of the Master's hand 
to fashion it to his own design, and then to apply it, so 

southey's LIFE OF WESLEY. 29 

fashioned, as the instrument of his own purpose. With him 
the instrument is all : it is self-motive, and self-efficient. 
This would be consistent enough, if Mr. Southey considered 
religion an opinion, and a ceremonial. I do him the justice 
to allow that there are passages in his work which embody 
higher conceptions of its nature. He admits that, by the 
preaching of Mr. Wesley, " drunkards were reclaimed, sin- 
ners were converted, the penitents who came in despair were 
sent away with the full assurance of joy: the dead sleep of 
indifference was broken : and oftentimes his eloquence reached 
-the hard brute heart, and, opening it, like the rock of Horeb, 
made way for the living spring of piety which had been pent 
within/' I will not make " a man an offender for a word," 
nor stop now to show that eloquence was not adequate to 
produce these effects, and that "the spring of piety" pent in 
the hard brute heart is rather a poetic imagining than a truth 
of experience. It is enough that Mr. Southey allows in this 
passage a change in the hearts of men, produced by the 
preaching of a zealous and holy minister of Christ — a change, 
as he elsewhere expresses it, " in the habits and moral nature 
of the proselytes." But, in all this, Divine agency is not 
allowed : Mr. Southey has his array of causes under com- 
mand ; and at the given signal they fail not to place them- 
selves at the head of every remarkable result of this kind, and 
to assert an exclusive claim to its origination. But -he shall 
be heard. Speaking of Mr. Whitefield, and the impression 
made by his preachiDg, he says : 

" The man who produced this extraordinary effect had 
many natural advantages. He was something above the 
middle stature, well proportioned, though at that time slender, 
and remarkable for a native gracefulness of manners. His 
complexion was very fair, his features regular, his eyes small 
and lively, of a dark-blue color. In recovering from the 
measles he had contracted a squint with one of them ; but this 
peculiarity rather rendered the expression of his countenance 
morfi rememberable, than in any degree lessened the effect of 
its uncommon sweetness. His voice excelled both in melody 
and compass j and its fine modulations were happily accom- 
panied by that grace of action which he possessed in an emi- 
nent degree, and which has been said to be the chief requi- 
site of an orator. An ignorant man described his eloquence 


oddly, but strikingly, when he said that Mr. Whitefield 
preached like a lion. So strange a comparison conveyed no 
unapt notion of the force, and vehemence, and passion of that 
oratory which tawed the hearers, and made them tremble, like 
Felix before the apostle. For, believing himself to be the mes- 
senger of God, commissioned to call sinners to repentance, 
he spoke as one conscious of his high credentials, with au- 
thority and power ; yet in- all his discourses there was a fer- 
vent and melting charity, an earnestness of persuasion, an 
outpouring of redundant love, partaking the- virtue of that 
faith from which it flowed, inasmuch as it seemed to enter 
the heart which it pierced, and to heal it as with balm." 

Of Mr. Wesley he remarks, after quoting a pointed pas- 
sage from one of his sermons : " This was the emphatic man- 
ner in which Mr. Wesley used to address his hearers, know- 
ing, as he did, that there would always be some among them 
to whom it would be precisely suited." Many observations 
of similar import might be quoted, but it is unnecessary. 
These are sufficient to show that Mr. Southey is inclined to 
ascribe the successes of faithful ministers to any thing but to 
a superhuman cause. The passage respecting Mr. Whitefield 
is truly eloquent, but that is its only praise. The extra- 
ordinary effect was produced by " the man." To accomplish 
it he had many " natural advantages" of person and voice. 
He had also mental energy; for, "believing himself to be the 
messenger of God," or, as he elsewhere says, " being, as he 
believed, under the influence of the Divine presence, he 
spoke with authority and power." This then was the secret 
of the success which followed Mr. Whitefield's preaching. 
For that of Mr. Wesley, it had the advantage of pulpit 
finesse : he .spoke pointedly, " knowing it would suit some- 
body." But his artifice did not stop here: " he knew how 
to produce effect." He preached, for instance, on his father's 
tombstone in the churchyard of Epworth. Mr. Southey 
has the reason: he did so, "knowing he should derive a 
deeper passion from the ground on which he stood, like the 
Greek tragedian, who, when he performed Electra, brought 
into the theatre the urn containing the ashes of .his own child." 
Mr. Wesley's habits of field-preaching threw him into places 
where the scenery was greatly varied. Mr. Southey' s poetic 
susceptibility here comes to the aid of his philosophy ; and 


he discovers that many of these localities had attributes of 
• the sublime or beautiful. Mr. Wesley himself was a man of 
taste, and was susceptible of the impressions of natural scen- 
ery; these impressions he often records in a very interesting 
manner in his Journal; and Mr. Southey is thus enabled to dis- 
cover that he chose his stations with reference to their " effect.'' 
"The situations in which he preached sometimes contributed 
to the impression • and he himself perceived that natural in>- 
fluences operated upon # the multitude, like the pomp and cir- 
cumstances of Romish worship/' Mr. Southey is rather 
pushed for efficient causes in this part of his work to account 
for the results produced by Mr. Wesley's preaching ; and he 
therefore resorts to "the deep shade of the sycamore trees, 
which surround the farm-houses in Cumberland," and "the 
twilight, and the calm of the evening, as the means of heighten- 
ing the impression." The natural amphitheatre at Gwennap : 
the projecting rock at St. Ives, with the murmur of the 
neighboring surge ; and the spacious sweep of land under the 
ruins of the castle and the ol<^ city-wall of Exeter, also come 
in to his aid ; and thes# poetic causalities are completed by 
the opportune perching of a bird, on one occasion, upon one 
of the boughs of the old sycamores, " singing without inter- 
mission from the beginning of the service to the end," as- 
sisting the preacher, of course, in turning men from darkness 
to light, from the power of Satan unto God ! We are not 
informed how similar effects were produced when no rocks 
reared their frowning heads, and when the sea was too far 
off to mix its murmurs with the preacher's voice : when no 
ruined castle nodded over the scene, and when the birds were 
so provokingly timid as to hasten away to an undisturbed 
solitude. He forgets, too, that the peasants of Cumberland 
were much accustomed to sycamore trees about their farm- 
houses : that the fishermen of St. Ives were daily in sight of 
rocks ; and that the people of Exete^ had too often seen the 
nodding castle and the ruined city-wall, to be much im- 
pressed by them. To the preacher these scenes were new, 
to his hearers they were familiar ; so that if we suppose the 
preacher excited by them, we still want a cause for the pro- 
duction of a corresponding feeling in the multitudes which 
hung upon his lips. But had they been as new to them, the 
impression would have been comparatively weak. It is not 


upon uncultivated minds that such scenes strongly operate. 
Theirs is chiefly the " brute unconscious gaze ;" for taste is 
awakened by culture; and the hearers of Mr. Wesley on 
these occasions, at least such of them generally as received 
" the impression" in all its fulness, neither had the advantage 
of general education, nor had the corps of lake poets then 
sprung into existence to crowd every country library with 
their reveries, and thus to prepare the public mind to throw 
itself into ectasies and " rapts" at the sight of " a daffodil," 
or the " warbling of a bird." 

I do not ask whether this reasoning upon the causes of the 
impression made by the preaching of the founders of Me- 
thodism accords with the principles of revealed religion; but 
is it philosophy ? If one of the main branches of that 
science is to assign the true reason of things, and to trace out 
the causes of effects; and if that be a false or a superficial 
philosophy which assigns to any effect a cause absolutely in-^ 
adequate, or which will but very partially explain it, then has 
~Mr. Southey's philosophy failed him ; and he has afforded 
another proof that as, on many subjects, religion is indeed the 
only philosophy, he who refuses to take its principles into his 
estimate of things, becomes thereby not the wiser, but the 
more mistaken, man. 

We have seen the causes assigned by Mr. Southey for the 
effects in question ; let the effects also be more fully exam- 
ined, in order to a just comparison between the one and the 
other. Those effects he acknowledges "in most instances to 
have been a change operated in the practical habits, and in 
the moral nature, of the proselytes." But he thus admits 
every thing necessary to his own refutation. This is the 
change expressed in the theological term " conversion," and, 
in the Scriptures, by the phrase " being born again." A 
conviction of the necessity of such a conversion in-order to 
salvation is the source of those penitential and anxious feel- 
ings which characterize the commencement of a religious 
course. The sense of danger whilst this change remains un- 
accomplished, and the hope of pardon and renewal, call forth, 
in all sincere persons, strong desires and earnest prayers; 
here, then, commences that new religious habit which never 
fails to excite the ridicule of the world. Such persons from 
that moment become, in Mr. Southey's estimation, " enthusi- 

southey's LIFE OP WESLEY. 38 

asts and fanatics ;" language certainly of a very singular kind 
to be used by a writer who acknowledges that a moral change 
was actually wrought in them, and that it was>,"ti direct and 
real benefit." As he admits also that such a change was pro- 
duced, it follows that a new order of feelings must, in the 
nature of the case, be created. That which was an object of 
desire now eomes into conscious possession, and anxiety 
ceases; the ground of former fears, the conviction- that no 
such change had been wrought, and yet that it was necessary 
to salvation, is taken away, and the peace and satisfaction 
which arise from a state of safety flow into the heart. Mr. 
Squthey, however, will not, or cannot, follow out his own ad- 
missions ; and this inward peace and joy are with him the 
sure indications of a fanatical state of mind. But a " change 
in the habits and moral nature" implies even much more; 
and much more must be granted by Mr. Southey, since he 
has granted so much. By Christian doctrines and principles 
I try his opinions ; because if he is not a believer in Chris- 
tianity, he ought in fairness to have made that avowal; and 
if he knows any thing of the Christianity he now professes, 
as it is found in the Scriptures, and expounded by all ortho- 
dox Churches, he knows that " a change in the moral nature" 
of man, as effected by the doctrine and influence of the gospel, 
includes the sanctification of the affections; dominion not 
only over sin, but also over excessive worldly cares and 
attachments; a devotional habit; a* cheerful and active bene- 
volence; a steady zeal for the honor of God, and for the ex- 
tension of religion ; and, if no subsequent remissness take 
place, a constant improvement in the habits of holiness, and 
"a growing preparation for the high and unmixed felicities of 
another state, where all the "pure in heart" — all in whom 
this "change in the moral nature has been operated" — "shall 
see God." Here are the effects — effects so lofty in them- 
selves and in their consequences, that*no change of any other 
kind, and however effected, can bear the least comparison 
with this ; a change which restores a fallen creature to the 
image and enjoyment of God on earth, and leads him through 
"the valley of the shadow of death," without dread, into an 
eternal rest. To this result, as far as human eye can pierce — 
as far as sincerity, and faith, and well-grounded hope, can be 
tried and manifested in seasons of sickness, and in the last 



pangs of disaolution — the preaching of the Wesleys, and of 
Whitefield, conducted thousauds. The question then is, 
whether the cause of such effects is a human or a Divine 
agency. The Scriptures ascribe the change to the Holy 
Spirit — "born of the Spirit;" the '{ renewing of the Holy 
Ghost." Agreeably to this, we pray in the liturgy that the 
thoughts of our hearts may be eleansed by the inspiration of 
the Holy Spirit; and acknowledge that Almighty. God alone 
can order the unruly wills and affections of men. Mr. 
Southey, however, gives a very different suffrage. The un- 
ruly wills and affections of men in the cases' in question 
were ordered, not by Almighty God, but by Whitefield's 
tuneful voice and energetic manner; by Wesley's insinuating 
address, and pulpit art, and landscape preaching. By such 
agencies alone vice was controlled ; men were made new 
creatures ; the sting of death was extracted ; the poor were 
made content; the sufferer in long and painful sickness was 
calmed, and soothed, and gladdened ; and heaven dawned 
upon eyes darkening in death, and closing without regret upon 
the scenes of earthly hope and felicity. .0 poor and pitiful 
philosophy I If it were in the power of any man to effect 
this, then ought he, in all reason, to become a god to the rest 
of his species. If these results are sincerely believed to 
have been produced by Wesley and Whitefield, without that 
" Divine presence" under which they ", believed" themselves 
to preach and act, then" is Mr. Southey' s ridicule of the 
superstitious veneration felt for them by their followers very 
ill-placed and inconsistent. Instead of being reverenced as 
instruments, they ought to have been adored as divinities. If 
Mr. Southey be right, there are saints in the calendar of the 
Bomish Church to whom that Church is highly culpable in 
offering its adoration, not because it pays them too much 
honor, but too little : it ought to exchange its inferior adora- 
tion of apostles and confessors and early missionaries, into that 
which is ultimate and absolute. 

But it is not difficult to discover the reason of all this 
error. There is ordinarily an adaptation in the instruments 
by which the Divine Being works in the accomplishment of 
his benevolent purposes. Those- eminent individuals who, 
in their day, have, produced great effects upon mankind have 
had great qualities. This adaptation both of persons and 

southey's* LIFE OF WESLEY. 35 

circumstances to the work they were intended to effect, forms 
a part of that chain of second causes, of which the professors 
of that shallow philosophy which, in modem times, has often 
put itself forward with so confident a pretension, avail them- 
selves, to exclude all consideration and acknowledgment of 
the hand of God. The discovery that such second causes 
exist, was not so difficult that they have any great reason to 
compliment their own sagacity upon it; but it is from thence 
concluded, that the primary and exclusive cause has been 
■detected. There are, however, two classes of intermediate 
causes through which Divine power operates. In the first, 
there is no adaptation to produce the effect, in any stage 
of the process ; as when the dead have been raised by the 
voice of a man, and when clay was applied by our Lord to 
cure a case of blindness. In the second there is a fitness to 
produce the incipient stages of the result; as when the elo- 
quence and earnestness of a preacher rouse attention- to the 
doctrines which he delivers. But the ultimate effect, the 
completion of the process, the successful issue, as much tran- 
scends the visible cause in the one case, as when conversion, 
or, as Mr. Southey chooses to say, " a change in the moVal 
nature," follows the ministry of such a preacher, as in the 
other. It is this circumstance which distinguishes the ordi- 
nary operations of God from miracles ; which, to answer any 
end, must be of rare occurrence, and take place under circum- 
stances which shall make their author immediately visible to 
the most unthinking. But though the interposition of an 
apparently adapted cause between the Divine power and the 
result is that which takes the wise in " their own craftiness;" 
and is, in just punishment, made the snare for all who come 
to such subjects with minds predisposed to exclude Divine 
agency as far as possible, and with a most culpable reluctance 
to acknowledge the hand of God in his own works, the de- 
ductions of such men, notwithstanding the pretence of learn- 
ing and investigation with which they are surrounded, are 
gross and limited. They are as irreligious and absurd as if it 
were asserted that the season of spring owes its verdure solely 
to the increased temperature of the afmosphere ; and that 
this cause is so manifestly efficient, that it would be fanatical 
to advert to the agency of Him who leads the circling seasous, 
and works by the tepid moistiye of spring, and the heats of 


summer, ta produce and to mature the fruits of the earth. 
Thus Gribbon waJS led astray in writing his celebrated chapter 
on the spread of Christianity in the first ages. By a very 
similar habit of thinking, Mr. Southey has got rid of the 
agency of God in the success of the ministry of the founders 
of Methodism, and, by consequence, in that of every minister 
of Ohrist who has ever " converted a sinner from the error 
of his ways/' In the same way, could Mr. Southey dispose 
of the miraculous attestations, to St. Paul's mission, might 
he account, most philosophically too, for the rest of his his- 
tory. That greatest of mere men had also qualifications 
adapted for his work, and they ha'd their causal operation. 
Mr. Southey could have described them most eloquently; 
and in presenting his readers with the rationale of his suc- 
cess, there would have been as much room for the display of 
his philosophy as in the case of Wesley and Whitefield. He 
could have told us of the "stirring temper/' "the fiery 
heart/' the "ambition," the "enthusiasm" of St. Paul; of 
the "aspiring presages" of what he was able to effect; of 
"the powers of which he was conscious." He could have 
given us the reason of his preferring to visit cities rather than 
villages, because the inhabitants of the country are "less 
susceptible," and " the effect could only be kept up in 
populous places, where men are powerfully acted upon by 
sympathy, whether for evil or good." He could have told 
us also why Paul stood on Mars' Hill at Athens — it would 
be " to produce a deeper passion ;" and the reason, too, why 
he led the disciples down to the seaside to pray with them, 
because " he himself perceived that natural influences ope- 
rated upon the multitude." I know not whether there were 
rocks like those of St. Ives on the Tyrian shore, but rdcks of 
some kind were there; and there was the sea, and probably 
there might be at the time a hoarse murmuring of its wavesi 
If St. Paul were placed in the circumstances of an ordinary 
minister, and the awe of inspiration and miraculous powers 
did not surround him, so much does Mr. Southey affect a 
philosophizing habit, that I should not be surprised at his 
attempting an investigation of his ministry on these prin- 
ciples. How much might he have said on the learning and 
zeal of Paul, and the eloquence of Apollos, as the causes of 
their success ! and yet the Holy Spirit, speaking by the for- 

southet's LIFE OP WESLEY. 87 

mer, has determined the question, both in their case, and, a 
fortiori, in that of inferior ministers : " PaW may plant and 
Apollos water, but God giveth the increase," Both had 
eminent ministerial qualifications, and to these were added 
the endowment of miraculous poweps ; but neither the one nor 
the other was the efficient cause of the conversion of men by 
tfyeir ministry : " Glod giveth the increase/' 

These instances of Mr. Southey's false or essentially defec- 
tive views on religious subjects might be greatly enlarged, 
but topics of greater weight call for notice. If any should 
say that it is too much to expect that the Poet Laureate should 
be a divine, the answer is, that, without a common initiation 
at least in the principles of religion, the Poet Laureate ought 
not to have uttered his dicta on the points referred to. It is 
surely not too much to expect that a professed member of the 
Church of England should understand his Catechism and the 
Book of Common Prayer. 




Charges of enthusiasm, as may be supposed, make a very 
conspicuous figure in Mr. Southey's book. The term has this 
peculiarity, that in every thing else but religion it is laudatory 
or innocent; in that only, does it convey contempt and imply 
censure. Mr. Southey has very liberally applied it, and so 
indiscriminately as entirely to confound the conceptions of 
his readers, if he did not mean to represent all ardor, all 
earnestness in religion as enthusiastic, as well as those excesses 
of the imagination and affections which are truly so. In this, 
as in other instances, he, has no steady standard of judging. 
Either his mind, never conceived such a rule, or he had not 
" the heart' ; faithfully to apply it. I shall supply the defect, 
and try the questions, as they may arise, by those principles 
which by Christians generally are held sacred. Mr. Southey 
"cannot complain of this; for if indeed he be recovered to the 
belief of the truth, he must not play fast and loose with it. 
PI* must not now look toward his Christian "associates, and then 
toward his old anti-Christian ones : " No man can serve two 

A few cases which he resolves i,nto enthusiasm may be 
properly adduced, as an antidote to the mischief with which 
some of his remarks are charged. His account of Mr. White- 
field might furnish many ; but one shall suffice. " He was 
now in a state of high enthusiasm." The proof is as follows; 
" Uncommon manifestations, he says, were granted him from 
above. Early in the morning, at noon-day, evening, and 
midnight, nay, all the day long, did the Redeemer visit and 
refresh his heart. Could the trees of the wood speak, they 
would tell what sweet communion, he and his Christian 


brethren had, under their shade, enjoyed with God. ' Some- 
times, as I have been walking, my soul would make such 
sallies, that I thought it would go out of the body. At other 
times I would be so overcome with a sense of the infinite 
majesty of God, that I would be constrained to throw myself 
prostrate on the ground, and offer my soul as a blank to write 
on it what he pleased.'" Whitefield's manner of expression 
is not always to be praised ; but it oftener offends a good 
taste than in this passage. Here are, it is true, strong emo- 
tions; but when we are told that all is high enthusiasm, " the 
ungrounded fancies of a man's brain/' as Locke describes 
enthusiasm to be, we must hesitate. Let the sentiments in 
this quotation be stripped of a dress of words, which to men 
of Mr. Southey's habits may appear novel and strange, what 
have we in this passage but the communion of an ardently 
devout man with his Maker; an awful and overwhelming 
reverence of the majesty of God; and the profound submis- 
sion of a mind which, recognizing his absolute rights and 
authority, loses all its self-will, and presents itself in the spirit 
of entire sacrifice, to be disposed of as he may determine? 
It is a poor and superficial way of thinking, that, because 
Whitefield's mind was naturally ardent, all this emotion is to 
be resolved into natural passion. Devotional feelings may 
receive strength and intensity from the natural habit; but 
what is it which moves the natural powers, and gives them 
this pious direction ? They were not always thus impelled 
and directed ; and in attributing this effect to enthusiasm, 
religion itself, by which alone the varied powers of the miod 
are sanctified and urged to those great ends for which man in 
his state of trial ought to live, is impugned. This communion 
with God, conscious and vital; this prostrate awe of God; 
this entire submission of soul to him, is the enthusiasm of the 
Scriptures, and the enthusiasm, too, of the most eminent 
devotional writers of all ages, and of the Church of England 
herself. Mr. Southey commends Bishop Taylor's " Holy 
Living and Dying" in high terms. Let him hear, then, what 
this "splendid work," as he calls it, recommends : "Let this 
actual thought often return, that God is omnipresent; filling 
every place. This thought, by being frequent, will make an 
habitual dread and reverence towards God, and fear in all thy 
actions." " In your retirement make frequent colloquies, or 


short discourses between God and thy own soul. Every act 
of complaint or thanksgiving, every act of rejoicing or mourn- 
ing, every petition and every return of the heart in these 
intercourses, is a going to God, and appearing in his pre- 
sence." " He walks as in the presence of God that converses 
with him in frequent prayer, and frequent communion, that 
runs to him in all his necessities, that asks counsel of him in 
all his doubtings, that opens all his wants to him, that weeps 
before him for all his sins/' etc. The good bishop was cer- 
tainly in this instance, on Mr. Southey' s principles, as much 
an enthusiast as Mr. Whitefield : he enjoins the same habit 
of communion with God ; the same awful, yet delightful, 
sense of the Divine presence; nor does he conceive that these 
11 intercourses with God," of which he speaks almost in the 
terms of Mr. Whitefield, can be held without producing strong 

Mr. Southey is a poet, and a good one too ; but it is to be 
feared that his admiration of Bishop Taylor is rather excited 
by the beauties of his works, than the divinity which they 
contain; that he has rather been dazzled by the coruscations 
of his fancy, as when he represents the "summer burned 
with the kisses of the sun/' and speaks of the " rose newly 
springing from the clefts of its hood, fair as the morning, and 
full with the dew of heaven, as a lamb's fleece," etc., than 
instructed by the steady light of devotion and holiness, which 
he everywhere holds up to direct the conduct of his readers. 

But Mr. Wesley, too, was "an enthusiast," as well as Mr. 
Whitefield ; for every strong emotion of his heart which he 
himself refers to Divine influence, Mr. Southey can very 
satisfactorily explain by a much better reason. He quotes 
the following passages from his writings : 

"I distinctly remember, that even in my childhood, and 
when I was at school, I have often said, 'They say the life of 
a schoolboy is the happiest in the world ; but I am sure I am 
not happy; for I am not content, and so cannot be happy/ 
When I had lived a few years longer, being in the vigor of 
youth, a stranger to pain and sickness, and particularly to 
lowness of spirits, (which I do not remember to have felt one 
quarter of an hour ever since I was born,) having plenty of 
all things, in the midst of sensible and amiable friends, who 
loved me, and I loved them, and being in the way of life 


which of all others suited ray inclinations, still I was not 
happy. I wondered why I was not, and could not imagine 
what the reason was. Upon the coolest reflection, there was 
not one week which I would have thought it worth while to 
have lived over again, taking it with every inward and out- 
ward sensation, without any variation at all. The reason cer- 
tainly was, that I did not know God, the source of present as 
well as eternal happiuess." 

This was Mr. Wesley's solution ; but Mr. Southey has a 
better, and convicts him of enthusiasm : "Another reason 
was, that powers like his produce an inward restlessness, and 
a perpetual uneasy sense of discontent, till they find or force 
their way into action ; and his restless spirit now found its 
proper sphere." Mr. Southey's reason is, however, so far 
defective, that it explains the case only as to Mr. Wesley, 
and not as to men in general ; all of whom are conscious of a 
similar dissatisfaction, though they have no powers like his, 
no ambition like that ascribed to him by his biographer, to 
find or force their way into action. So thought Bishop Tay- 
lor, who, with Mr. Southey, is an authority: "Men's joys 
are troublesome, wavering, and full of trepidation, not only 
from their inconstant nature, but from their weak foundation ; 
they arise from vanity ; they dwell upon ice, and they converse 
with the wind; they proceed by inadvertency, and end in 
vanity and forgetfulness. So that, as Livius Drusus said of 
himself, he never had any play-days, or days of quiet, when 
he was a boy; for he was restless and unquiet. The same 
may every man observe to be true of himself: he is always 
restless and uneasy; he dwells upon the waters, and leans 
upon thorns, and lays his head upon a sharp stone." This is 
oue of those universal facts in the moral history of mankind 
which the " wisdom of the world" cannot explain, though it 
has been recognized by all its moralists, and investigated by 
all its sages. To merely human philosophy it will ever be a 
mystery, why man is the most unsatisfied and disquieted sen- 
tient being in the creation; and why so often, in the conscious 
vanity of his mind, he envies the superior satisfaction of the 
inferior animals. 

" Deep in rich pasture, will thy flocks complain ?" 
This mystery Christianity explains : it is the mercy of God 


that the creature is not suffered to satisfy the soul ; and earth 
is made uneasy to man, that he may learn to rest on heaveu. 
Mr. Wesley's solution of his case, which indeed has nothing 
in it peculiar to himself, is certainly in the spirit of our reli- 
gion, and it is one by which Mr. Southey may profit. He 
may also have felt in his younger years the same restlessness 
and dissatisfaction ; and if his philosophy should now deter- 
mine that these were the "aspiring presages" of future emi- 
nence ; that there was a sort of instinctive tendency, even in 
the days of his youth, to the Laureateship of England ; and 
that "powers like his" always produce an inward restlessness 
"till they find or force their way into action," it may have a 
good issue, if he seriously consider, whether some other and 
a higher power has not had its agency in these feelings, 
prompting him, as it prompts all, to a commerce of a superior 
kind than he has held with the powers of song, anxious to 
convey to his spirit a richer satisfaction than a world which 
has not been very unfavorable to him can bestow. Mr. 
Southey may start at the thought of becoming an enthusiast; 
but he may be assured that, in such a conclusion, he will 
make acquaintance, not only with the wise and good of every 
age, but with those of his own Church — a numerous band, 
with whose names and writings I heartily wish him more 

The charges of enthusiasm which our author fixes upon 
certain irregularities which appeared in the early part of 
Methodism, and which now occasionally appear, shall be pre- 
sently examined. With respect to these occurrences, a rule 
less severe is to be applied. There are considerations con- 
nected with them with which Mr. Southey can scarcely be 
supposed familiar; and considerable allowance may and ought 
to be made for his opinions, though even here he has not 
always argued so fairly as his own principles, defective as they 
are, required. But no such concession is to be made when 
he resolves into enthusiasm all those hallowed feelings of zeal 
for God, and tender compassion for men, which appeared so 
conspicuous in the great instruments of the revival of reli- 
gion in this country in the last century. If Mr. Southey 
must be heard, then I know not what man, in any Church, 
distinguished by more than ordinary ardor of religious senti- 
ment, and for great and persevering efforts in doing good, can 

southey's LIFE OF WESLEY. 43 

escape this charge. Every virtue which shines in the conduct 
of those who are devoted to their Saviour and his religion is 
darkened by the same shadow ; and every holy feeling which 
glows in their hearts must be considered as deriving its warmth 
rather from the artificial fermentation of earthly principles, 
than from the fire of the altar. " Enthusiasm" leads the 
Wesleys and Whitefield into Georgia; "enthusiasm" prompts 
them to their excessive labors at home ; all those who, in the 
Church or out of it, employed themselves in a work which 
even Mr. Southey allows effected "great good, both directly 
and indirectly," are enthusiasts. The early coadjutors of the 
Wesleys, who went into the darkest and most barbarous parts 
of this country, to carry forth the light of religion, and 
exposed themselves to labors and sufferings in their calling, 
are, for this very reason, aspersed with the same reproach. 
The excellent Gilbert, who set the first example of bestowing 
religious care upon their negro slaves to the planters in the 
West Indies, was a man "enthusiastic by constitution;" 
though this great, and, at that time, hazardous endeavor, for 
which every man of humanity ought to pronounce his name 
with reverence, is the only overt act on which Mr. Southey 
can found the charge. When Mr. Pawson declined going to 
America, the reason Mr. Southey assigns is, that the "fire of 
his enthusiasm was spent;" as though to impress it upon his 
readers, that none but enthusiastic men can be expected to 
undertake the conversion of foreign countries, and to insinuate 
by this innuendo, that the noble army of modern missionaries 
is composed only of visionaries and fanatics. If this self- 
denial; these unwearied and disinterested labors ; this readi- 
ness to suffer; this lofty daring of the reproach of worldly 
men; and the principles upon which the whole was founded, 
lively and solemn views of eternal things, and of the perish- 
ing state of sinful men; a weeping sympathy for all distress; 
jealousy for the honor of Christ; and a conscientious careful- 
noes to fill up life usefully, and to employ and improve the 
talents committed to them as those who must give account, be 
enthusiasm, I ask, Where, and what, is religion? Let Mr. 
Southey give us his own description of it, and enable us to 
detect the counterfeit. This I suspect would bring out a sin- 
gular explanation of his views. The penitence of his system 
must never weep, nor its joys illuminate the countenance, and 


fill the tongue with praise. Its zeal must be restrained within 
the bounds of a carefully-measured activity ; for more than 
common energy would indicate the presence of the enthusias- 
tic principle. His religious man must carefully observe esta- 
blished maxims, for to disregard them would be spiritual 
pride ; he must not make himself conspicuous, for that would 
be ostentation ; he must be careful not to go about in quest 
of doing good, for that would be religious knight-errantry; 
he must abstain from the indulgence of all great purposes of 
usefulness, for that would be ambition ; he must be specially 
careful not to put himself to hazard, for that would be an 
indecent "longing for persecution/' He must be as careful 
of his words, also, as of his conduct. He must never point- 
edly speak of eternal punishment, though a preacher, for he 
might possibly alarm the ignorant, and throw them into "con- 
vulsions;" nor of the doctrine of justification by faith only, 
"though wholesome and very full of comfort/' for that would 
indicate an approach to "the delirious stage of fanaticism;" 
nor must he enjoin a too frequent attendance on religious 
ordinances, for that would be to "apply stimulants to the 
fever of religious excitement." For such a religionist the 
world is not likely to be much the wiser or better on account 
of his having lived in it; and he would certainly run no 
hazard of being taken for an "enthusiast," though he should 
not, like Mr. Southey, step forth from his seclusion, contempt- 
uously to write that reproachful epithet upon the tombs of 
men who, having " served their generation, according to the 
will of G-od, are fallen asleep." 

soitthet's LIFE OP WESLEY. 45 



Mr. Southey's more specific charges of enthusiasm are 
founded on the doctrine of assurance, as taught by Mr. 
Wesley; and on certain irregularities in persons strongly 
affected under his preaching in the early periods of his min- 

As to the first, the precise sense in which that doctrine was 
taught by the founder of Methodism is fairly stated. It was 
not the assurance of eternal salvation as held by Calvinistic 
divines; but the assurance given by the Holy Spirit to peni- 
tent and believing persons, that they are "now accepted of 
God, pardoned, and adopted into God's family/' It was a 
doctrine, therefore, on the ground of which no relaxation of 
religious effort could be pleaded, and no unwatchfulness of 
spirit or irregularity of life allowed ; for all were taught, that 
only by the lively exercise of the same humble and obedient 
faith in the merits and intercession of Christ, this assured 
state of mind could be maintained. This was Mr. Wesley's 
view of the subject, and it was urged by him as a motive, 
influential as our desire of inward peace, to vigilance and 
obedience. With Mr. Southey, this doctrine is, nevertheless, 
enthusiastic; it is the offspring of a disordered imagination. 
So he determines ; and as for the Scriptures, he does not give 
himself the trouble to refer the question to their decision. 
They may support or refute the opinion ; but he has another 
mode of disposing of theological questions. Still he must be 
reminded that in discussing religious doctrines he must be 
brought to first principles, and that by them his decisions 
must be tried before they can be allowed to have any force. 
He considers the assurance taught by Mr. Wesley as a an 


enthusiastic confidence, excessive as the outrageous self-con- 
demnation by which it was to be preceded, and in which it 
was to have its root ;" a passage from which it is evident that 
he has but very inadequate views of the guilt and danger of 
men in their unregenerate state, and of the degree of "self- 
condemnation" implied in the Scripture doctrine of repent- 
ance. Into these points I shall not enter ; but lest those 
who are not disposed to give up as lightly as himself the very 
principles on which the Christian system is founded, and by 
which alone it was rendered necessary — the natural corruption 
and the actual guilt and danger of every human being, with- 
out exception — should be misled as to the doctrine of assur- 
ance by charges of enthusiasm, it shall be briefly examined. 

If, then, it is the doctrine of the inspired records, and of 
all orthodox Churches, that man is by nature prone to evil, 
and that in practice he violates that law under which, as a 
creature, he is placed, and is thereby exposed to punishment; 
if also it is there stated, that an act of grace and pardon is 
promised on the conditions of repentance towards God, and 
faith in our Lord Jesus Christ; if that repentance implies 
consideration of our ways, a sense of the displeasure of Al- 
mighty God, contrition of heart, and consequently trouble 
and grief of mind, mixed, however, with a hope inspired by 
the promise of forgiveness, and which leads to earnest suppli- 
cation for the actual pardon of sin so promised, it will follow 
from these premises, either, 1, That forgiveness is not to be 
expected till after the termination of our course of probation, 
that is, in another life; and that, therefore, this trouble and 
apprehension of mind can only be assuaged by the hope we 
may have of a favorable final decision on our case; or, 2, 
That sin is, in the present life, forgiven as often as it is thus 
repented of, and as often as we exercise the required and 
specific acts of trust in the merits of our Saviour ; but that 
this forgiveness of our sins is not in any way made known 
unto us, so that we are left, as to our feelings, in precisely the 
same state as if sin were not forgiven till after death, namely, 
in grief and trouble of mind, relieved only by hope; or, 3, 
The scriptural view is, that when sin is forgiven by the mercy 
of God through Christ, we are, by some means, assured of it, 
and peace and satisfaction of mind take the place of anxiety 
and fear. 

southey's LIFE OF WESLEY. 47 

The first of these conclusions is sufficiently disproved by 
the authority of Scripture, which exhibits justification as a 
blessing attainable in this life, and represents it as actually 
experienced by true believers. " Therefore, being justified by 
"iJQ%ftr^'tSl£ re * s now no con denmation to them who are 
things," etc. Tfeofu&fei^ 

are decisive. The notion that though an act of forgiveness 
may take place, yet that we are unable by any means to ascer- 
tain a fact so important to us, is also irreconcilable with many 
scriptures in which the writers of the New Testament speak 
of an experience, not confined personally to themselves, or to 
those Christians who are endowed with spiritual gifts, but 
common to all Christians — to which such a notion cannot be 
reconciled. " Being justified by faith, we have peace with 
God." " We joy in God, through Christ, by whom we have 
received the reconciliation." " We were reconciled to God by 
the death of his Son." " Ye have not received the spirit of 
bondage again to fear, but the Spirit of adoption, by which we 
cry, Abba, Father." To these may be added innumerable pas- 
sages which express the comfort, the confidence, and the joy 
of Christians; their "friendship" with God; their "access" 
to him; their entire union and delightful intercourse with 
him; and their absolute confidence in the success of their 
prayers. All such passages are perfectly consistent with deep 
humility and self-diffidence ; but they are irreconcilable with 
a state of hostility between the parties, and with an unascer- 
tained and only hoped-for restoration of friendship and favor. 
So likewise the services of the national Church, which with 
propriety, as being designed not for the use of true Christians 
only, but of mixed congregations, abound in acts of confes- 
sion, and the expressions of fear and spiritual grief, yet ex- 
hibit this confidence and peace, as objects of earnest desire 
and hopeful anticipation, and as blessings attainable in the 
present life. We pray to be made the children of God by 
adoption and grace; to be "relieved from the fear of punish- 
ment by the comfort of thy grace;" not to be " left comfort- 
less, but that God, the King of glory, would send to us the 
Holy Ghost to comfort us;" and that by the same Spirit hav- 
ing a right judgment in all things, " we may evermore rejoice 
in his boly comfort." In the prayer directed to be used for 


persons troubled in mind or in conscience, we have also the 
following impressive petitions : " Break not the bruised reed, 
nor quench the smoking flax. Shut not up thy tender mer- 
cies in displeasure, but make him to hear of joy and gladness, 
that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Deliver 
him from the fear of the enemy, ^and liftjip ■ -^N'owtinlessVt 
-^^§M^u n Th1it DJTrtese~petitions we are directed to seek 
what we can never find, and always to follow that which we 
can never overtake, the public liturgy, in the spirit of the 
New Testament, assumes the forgiveness of sins, and the 
relief of the sorrows of the penitent state to be attainable,* 
with those consequent comforts and joys which can only arise 
from some assurance of mind, by whatever means and in what- 
ever degree obtained, that we have a personal interest in the 
general promise, and that we are reconciled to God by the 
death of his Son. For since the general promise is made to 
many who will never be benefited by it, it cannot of itself 
be the ground of a settled religious peace of mind ; and as it 
is a promise of blessings to be individually experienced, unless 
I can have personal experience of them, it holds up to hope 
what can never come into fruition, f 

* " The third part of repentance is faith, whereby we do apprehend 
and take hold upon the promises of God, touching the free pardon and 
forgiveness of our sins ; which promises are sealed up unto us, with 
the death and blood-shedding of his Son Jesus Christ. For what 
should it avail and profit us to be sorry for our sins, to lament and 
bewail that we have offended our most bounteous and merciful Father, 
or to confess and acknowledge our offences and trespasses, though it 
be done never so earnestly, unless we do steadfastly believe, and be 
fully persuaded, that God, for his Son Jesus Christ's sake, will for- 
give us all our sins, and put them out of remembrance and from his 
sight ? Therefore they that teach repentance without a lively faitb 
in our Saviour Jesus Christ, do teach none other but Judas's repent- 
ance," etc. 

" It is evident and plain, then, that although we be never so ear- 
nestly sorry for our sins, acknowledge and confess them, yet all these 
things shall be but means to bring us to utter desperation, except we 
do steadily believe that God our Heavenly Father will, for his Son 
Jesus Christ's sake, pardon and forgive us our offences and tres- 
passes." — Homily on Repentance. 

f "Faith is not merely a speculative but a practical acknowledg- 
ment of Jesus as the Christ — an effort and motion of the mind toivards 

southey's LIFE OP WESLEY. 49 

An assurance, therefore, that the sins which are felt to " be 
^"burden intolerable" are forgiven, and that the ground of that 
apprehension of future punishment which causes the penitent 
to "bewail his manifold sins/' is taken away by restoration 
to the favor of the ©ffended God, must be allowed, or nothing 
would be more incongruous and impossible than the comforts, 
the peace, the rejoicing of spirit, which, both in the Scrip- 
tures, and in the services of almost all Churches, are attributed, 
to believers. If, indeed, self-condemnation, and the appre- 
hension of danger, as Mr. Southey seems to think, have no 
foundation but in the imagination, the case is totally altered. 
Where there is no danger, deliverance is visionary, and the 
joy it inspires is raving, and not reason. But if a real danger 
exists ; if by various means men are brought under a serious 
concern to escape it ; if it cannot be avoided but by an act 
of grace on the part of Almighty Grod, we must have some 

God; when the sinner, convinced of sin, accepts with thankfulness 
the proffered terms of pardon, and, in humble confidence applying in- 
dividually to himself the benefit of the general atonement, in the ele- 
vated language of a venerable Father of the Church, drinks of the 
stream which flows from the Redeemer's side. The effect is, that in 
a little he is filled with that perfect love of God which casteth out 
fear — he cleaves to God with the entire affection of the soul. And from 
this active, lively faith, overcoming the world, subduing carnal self, 
all those good works do necessarily spring, which God hath before 
ordained that we should walk in them." — Bishop Horsley's Sermons. 

" The purchase, therefore, was paid at once, yet must be severally 
reckoned to every soul whom it shall benefit. If we have not an hand 
to take what Christ's hand doth either hold or offer, what is suffi- 
cient in him cannot be effectual to us. The spiritual hand, where- 
by we apprehend the sweet offer of our Saviour, is faith ; which, in 
short, is no other than an affiance in the Mediator. Receive peace, 
and be happy. Believe, and thou hast received. Thus it is that we 
have an interest in all that God hath promised, or Christ hath per- 
formed. Thus have we from God both forgiveness and love, tho 
ground of all, whether peace or glory." — Bishop HalVs Heaven upon 

"It is the property of saving faith, that it hath a force to appro- 
priate, and make Christ our own. Without this, a general remote 
belief would have been cold comfort. ' He loved me, and gave him- 
self for »»«,' saith St. Paul. What saith St. Chrysostom ? < Did 
Christ die only for St. Paul? No; non ezcludit, sed appropriate he 
excludes not others ; but he will secure himself." — Bishop Brovgvricjg' 's 
Sarmon on Easter Day. 


assurance of the performance of that act in our own case, or 
the guilty gloom will abide upon us. The more sincere and 
earnest a person is in the affair of his salvation, the more 
miserable he must become if there be no possibility of his 
being assured that the wrath of God no longer abideth upon 
him ; and then the ways of wisdom will be no longer " ways 
of pleasantness, and her paths paths of peace." The doc- 
trine of assurance, therefore, does not stand alone, and is not 
to be judged of as an isolated doctrine ; and for this reason 
it was quite consistent in Mr. Southey to fix the stigma of 
enthusiasm upon the doctrines of human corruption, guilt, 
and danger, as those in which assurance "has its root." 
With them the doctrine of assurance must stand or fall. 
Forgiveness implies a previous danger; and if we have uo 
means of knowing when that danger is escaped, we may ask 
for peace and comfort, but assuredly we do not perform a 
reasonable service. Such petitions themselves imply the 

Few divines, therefore, have ever denied the possibility of 
our becoming assured of the favor of God in a sufficient degree 
to give substantial comfort to the mind. Their differences 
have rather respected the means by which the contrite become 
assured of that change in their relation to Almighty God 
whom they have offended, which in Scripture is expressed by 
the term justification. The question has been, (where the 
notion of an assurance of eternal salvation has not been under 
discussion, and with this Mr. Wesley's opinions have no con- 
nection,) By what means is the assurance of Divine favor con- 
veyed to the mind ? Some have concluded that we obtain it 
by inference, others by the direct testimony of the Holy 
Spirit to the mind. The latter was the opinion of Mr. Wes- 
ley; but it was not so held as to reject the corroborating evi- 
dence of inference. His words are, " It is hard to find terms 
in the language of men to explain the deep things of God. 
But perhaps one might say, (desiring any one who is taught 
of God to soften or strengthen the expression,) the testimony 
of the Spirit is an inward impression on the soul, whereby 
the Spirit of God witnesses to my spirit that I am a child of 
God, that Christ hath loved me, and given himself for me, 
that I^even I am reconciled to God." This is Mr. Wesley's 
statement of the doctrine ; from which it will appear that, in 

southey's life or we s ley 51 


his view, the assurance spoken of above as the only source of 
religious peace and joy, and without which such affections can- 
not be produced by religion, is conveyed to the mind immedi- 
ately by the Spirit of God. Before, however, our "rational" 
religiouists, headed by Mr. Southey, open the full cry of enthusi- 
,asni upon this venerable man, it is right to remind them that he 
never failed to connect this doctrine with another, which, on 
the authority of St. Paul, he calls the witness of our own 
spirit, "the consciousness of having received, in and by the 
Spirit of adoption, the tempers mentioned in the word of God 
as belonging to his adopted children- — a consciousness that we 
are inwardly conformed, by the Spirit of God, to the image 
of his Son, and that we walk before him in justice, mercy, and 
truth, doing the things which are pleasing in his sight." The 
manner in which he here connects the testimony of the Spirit 
of God, and the testimony of our own spirit, the direct and 
the inferential testimony that we are in the favor of God, and 
which he never put asunder, though he assigned them distinct 
offices, cannot be overlooked, if justice be done to his opin- 
ions; and Mr. Southey, if he understood the subject, is most 
unfair in not stating it. In order to prevent presumption, 
Mr. Wesley reminds his readers that this direct testimony is 
subsequent to true repentance, and accompanied by a moral 
change so vast, that no man can mistake it who examines 
himself by the Scriptures ; and, on the other hand, to guard 
against delusion, he asks, " How am I assured that I do not 
mistake the voice of the Spirit? Even by the testimony of 
my own spirit, l by the auswer of a good conscience towards 
God :' hereby you shall know that you are in no delusion, that 
you have not deceived your own soul. The immediate fruit,-; 
of the Spirit ruling in the heart are love, joy, peace; bowels 
of mercies, humbleness of mind, meekness, gentleness, long- 
suffering. And the outward fruits are, the doing good to all 
men, and a uniform obedience to all the commands of God." 
This is Mr. Wesley's doctrine, as stated by himself; and from 
these extracts it will appear that Mr. Southey has only taken that 
part of it which might appear to give the best support to his 
charge of enthusiasm, and has left out all those qualifications 
and guards under which this tenet was taught by the founder 
of Methodism. I ask, then, for proofs of the enthusiasm of 


the doctrine, as thus stated. An enthusiastic doctrine is un 
supported* by the sacred records' ; but the authority of Scrip- 
ture is here manifest. "The Spirit itself beareth witness 
with our spirit that we are the children of God." The wit- 
nesses are the Spirit of God and our own spirit; and the fact 
to which testimony is given is, that " we are the children of 
God." "And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the 
Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying. Abba, Father I" 
Other passages of similar import occur in the New Testa- 
ment; and to them might be added all those texts which 
speak of the inward intercourse of the Spirit of God with 
believers, of his dwelling in them, and abiding with them the 
source of comfort and peace, and which, therefore, imply the 
doctrine. Mr. Southey will allege that other interpretations 
may be given. He, for instance, would furnish a different 
sense of the passages just cited; but are we enthusiasts. 
because we do not admit Mr. Southey's interpretations ? This 
is not surely the rule by which he distributes opprobrious 
epithets. Other interpretations may be given ; but until we 
are convinced that Mr. Wesley and other divines have not 
given the most natural sense of the above passages, and one 
which is best supported by the spirit and letter of other parts 
of the sacred volume, the aspersion of enthusiasm will not 
certainly induce us to abandon our opinion — such passages,, as 
it appears to us, cannot be interpreted but as teaching the 
doctrine of assurance, conveyed immediately to the mind of 
true believers by the Holy Spirit, without allowing such prin- 
ciples of construction as would render the sense of Scripture 
uncertain, and unsettle the evidence of some of the most im- 
portant doctrines of our religion. 

But Mr. Wesley was not alone in this opinion ; and Mr. 
Southey might have hesitated to brand him as an enthusiast 
for teaching this doctrine, had he known that divines of the 
greatest eminence have held it, and precisely in the way it 
was taught by him. In his entire unacquaintance with theo- 
logical knowledge, he appears to think that the opinion was 
an invention of the founder of Methodism. But numerous 
quotations might be made from divines of the highest char- 
acter in the national Church, to prove that it was no novelty. 
A few extracts, however, must suffice; but they shall be 


selected from different periods, to show that this truth has 
not been without its testimony in the Church of England, 
from the time of the Reformation itself. 

" In the 88th Psalm is contained the prayer of one who, 
although he felt in himself that he had not only man, but 
also God, angry towards him, yet he by prayer humbly re- 
sorted unto God, as the only port of consolation ; and, in the 
midst of his desperate state of trouble, put the hope of his 
salvation in Him whom he felt his enemy. Howbeit, no man 
of himself can do this, but the Spirit of God that striketh 
man's heart with fear, prayeth for the man stricken and feared, 
with unspeakable groanings. And when you feel yourself and 
know any other oppressed after such sort, be glad ; for after 
that God hath made you know what you be of yourself, he will 
doubtless show you comfort, and declare unto you what you be 
in Christ his only Son ; and use prayer often; for that is the 
means whereby God will be sought unto for his gifts." Again : 
" The patient man sees life hid under these miseries and ad- 
versities of this world, as light under foul clays, and in the 
meantime he hath the testimony of a good conscience, and 
believeth God's promises to be his consolation in the world to 
come, which is more worth to him than all the world is worth 
besides; and blessed is that man 'in whom God's Spirit bear 
eth record that he is the son of God/ Rom. viii., whatsoever 
troubles he suffers in this troublesome world." — Bishop 
Hooper. See Fox's Acts and Monuments. 

"It is the proper effect of the blood of Christ to cleanse 
our consciences from dead works to serve the living God ; 
which if we find it doth, Christ is come to us as he is to 
come; and the Spirit is come, and puts his teste (witness). 
And if we have his teste, we may go our way in peace : we 
have kept a right feast to him, and to the memory of his 
coming. Even so come, Lord Jesus, and come, blessed 
Spirit, and bear witness to our spirit that Christ's water, and 
his blood, we have our part in both; both in the fountain 
opened for sin and uncleanuess, and in the blood of the New 
Testament, the legacy whereof is everlasting life in thy king- 
dom of glory; whither Christ that paid the purchase, and 
the Spirit that giveth the seisin, vouchsafe to bring us all." — 
Bishop Andrews. Sermon of the Sending of the Holy 


" So God the Father loved the world, that he gave his only- 
begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not 
perish, but have everlasting life. So God the Son loved the 
world of his elect, that he gave unto them the Holy Spirit of 
promise ; whereby they are sealed unto the day of redemp- 
tion ; whereby, according to the riches of his glory, they are 
strengthened with might in the inner man ; by the virtue 
whereof, shed abroad in their hearts, they are enabled to cry, 
Abba, Father. gifts ! either of which is more worth than 
many worlds; yet through thy goodness, Lord, both of 
them are mine. How rich is my soul, through thy Divine 
munificence ! how overlaid with mercies ! how safe in thine 
almighty tuition ! how happy in thy blessed promise ! Now, 
therefore, I dare, in the might of my God, bid defiance to all 
the gates of hell. Do your worst : God is mine, and I am 
his. I am above your malice in the right of him, whose I 
am. It is true I am weak, but he is omnipotent; I am sin- 
ful, but he is infinite holiness ; that power, that holiness, in 
his gracious application, are mine !" — Bishop Hall's Medi- 
tations on the Love of Christ. 

" The Spirit which God hath given us to assure us that we 
are the sons of God, to enable us to call upon him as our 
Father." — Hooker's Sermon of Certainty of Faith. 

" Unto you, because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the 
Spirit of his Son into your hearts, to the end ye might know 
that Christ hath built you upon a rock immovable, that he 
hath registered your names in the book of life." — Hooker's 
Sermon on Jude. 

" From adoption flows all Christians' joy ; for the Spirit 
of adoption is first a witness, Rom. viii. 16. Second, a seal, 
Eph. iv. 30. Third, the pledge and earnest of our inherit- 
ance, Eph. i. 14; setting a holy security on the soul, whereby 
itrejoiceth, even in affliction, in hope of glory." — Archbishop 
Usher's Sum and Substance of Christian Religion. 

" This is one great office of the Holy Ghost, to ratify and 
seal up to us the forgiveness of our sins. 'In whom after ye 
believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise,'" 
etc. — Bishop Brownrigg's Sermon on Whitsunday. 

'-Let us be perfect, and of one mind; and the God of 
peace will be with us, and give us that peace and comfort 
within which the iniquity of men may chance to deny us 

southey's LIFE OF WESLEY. 55 

without. If to be secure of heaven and the glories of it ; if 
to anticipate our final sentence, and to know we shall be jus- 
tified and saved, when we come to die, a felicity greater than 
which no Christian can desire now, or hope hereafter; this 
we shall not fail of, if we follow the apostle's direction, Let 
us be perfect, be of one mind, etc. To this blessed assurance, 
al$o, the Spirit of God shall bear witness with our spirits that 
we are the sons of God." — Archbishop Wake's Sermons, 
vol. i., p. 125. 

"It is the office of the Holy Ghost to assure us of the 
adoption of sons, to create in us a sense of the paternal love 
of God toward us, to give us an earnest of our everlasting 
inheritance. ' The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts 
by the Holy Ghost", which is given unto us/ 'For as many 
as are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God/ And 
' because we are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his 
Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father/ ' For we have 
not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but we have 
received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 
The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are 
the children of God/ As, therefore, we are born again by 
the Spirit, and receive from him our regeneration, so we are 
also assured by the same Spirit of our adoption ; and because, 
being sons, we are also heirs, ' heirs of God, and joint-heirs 
with Christ,' by the same Spirit we have the pledge, or rather 
the earnest, of our inheritance. 'For He which establisheth 
us in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God, who hath also 
sealed us, and hath given us the earnest of his Spirit in our 
hearts ; so that we are sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, 
which is the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption 
of the purchased possession/ " — Bishop Pearson On the 

11 This is that Trvevjia vlodeotag, that Spirit of adoption, 
which constituteth us the sons of God, qualifying us so to be 
by dispositions resembling God, and filial affections towards 
him ; certifying us that we are so, and causing us, by a free 
instinct, to cry, 'Abba, Father ;' running into his bosom of 
love, and flying under the wings of his mercy in all our needs 
and distresses ; whence ' as many as are led by the Spirit, 
they' (saith Paul) ' are the sons of God,' and ' the Spirit 
itself beareth witness with our spirits that we are the children 


of God.'" — Dr. Isaac Barrow's Sermon on the. Gift of the 
Holy Ghest* 

The same views on this subject are also clearly assumed 
in several of the Homilies, and in some passages are very 
unequivocally expressed. f This was also the view of Lu- 
ther^ and it is found in Calvin, and most of the old divines 

* Mr. Southey delights in old Chroniclers ; but perhaps the follow- 
ing passage from Holinshed's Chronicles may have escaped him, and 
he may not have suspected that the old gentleman was as much an 
"enthusiast" in his views on this subject as Mr. Wesley: "It be- 
hooveth the godly to repose their hope in that grace which is freely 
granted through Jesus Christ, and to flee unto the mercies of God 
which are offered us in, with, and by his Son, to the end that we may 
at last find the testimony of his Spirit working with ours, that we are 
his chosen children, whereby cometh peace of conscience to such as 
believe." Vol. i., p. 45. 

f "All these fathers, martyrs, and other holy men, whom St. Paul 
spake of, had their faith surely fixed in God, when all the world was 
against them. They did not only know God to be the Lord, Maker, 
and Governor of all men in the world, but also they had a special con- 
fidence and trust that he was and would be their God, their Comforter, 
Aider, Helper, Maintainer, and Defender. This is the Christian faith, 
which these holy men had, and we also ought to have. And although 
they were not named Christian men, yet was it a Christian faith that 
they had ; for they looked for all benefits of God the Father, through 
the merits of his Son Jesus Christ, as we now do. This difference is 
between them and us ; for they looked when Christ should come, and 
we be in the time when he is come. Therefore, saith Augustin, the 
time is altered and changed, but not the faith. For we have both one 
faith in Christ. The same Holy Ghost also that we have, had they, saith 
St. Paul. For as the Holy Ghost doth teach us to trust in God, and 
to call upon him as our Father, so did he teach them to say, as it is 
written, Thou, Lord, art our Father and Redeemer; and thy name is 
without beginning and everlasting. God gave them grace then to be his 
children, as he doth us now. But now, by the coming of our Saviour 
Christ, we have received more abundantly the Spirit of God in our 
hearts, whereby we may conceive a greater faith, and a surer trust, than 
many of them had." — Homily on Faith. 

X "He" (Martin Luther) "was strengthened yet more by the dis- 
course of an old Augustin monk, concerning the certainty we may 
have that our sins are forgiven. This he inferred from that article 
of our creed, 'I believe in the forgiveness of sins:' strongly insist- 
ing that these very words implied not barely a belief that some men's 
sins are forgiven, but that each man is personally to believe for him- 
self, 'God, through Christ, has forgiven my sins.' God likewise gave 
him much comfort in his temptations by that saying of St. Bernard, 

southey's LIFE OF WESLEY. 57 

of his school.* It is true that, with the latter, it is carried 
to an extent which those who do not admit their system have 
disputed as presumptuous, and unsupported by Scripture ; 
but their view of it, as an assurance also of eternal salvation, 
is a peculiarity which does not essentially affect the doctrine 
itself. They would have held it, though differently, had they 
not believed in Calvin's theory; for assurance of the Divine 

'It is necessary to believe, first of all, that you cannot have forgive- 
ness but by the mercy of God ; and next, to believe that, through his 
mercy, thy sins are forgiven thee.' This is the witness which the Holy 
Spirit bears in thy heart, ' Thy sins are forgiven thee.'' And thus it is 
that, according to the apostle, a man is justified freely through faith." 
— J. D. Heksmschmid's Life of Martin Luther. 

* The precedence of the direct witness of the Spirit of God to the 
indirect witness of our own, and the dependence of the latter upon 
the former, are very clearly stated by three divines of great authority ; 
to whom I refer the rather, because many of their followers of the 
present day have become very obscure in their statements of this 
branch of Christian experience : 

"St. Paul means that the Spirit of God gives such a testimony to 
us, that, he being our guide and teacher, our spirit concludes our 
adoption of God to be certain. For our own mind, of itself, inde- 
pendent of the preceding testimony of the Spirit, [nisi prceeunte 
SpirMs testimonio,~\ could not produce this persuasion in us. For 
whilst the Spirit witnesses that we are the sons of God, he at the same 
time inspires this confidence into our minds, that we are bold to call 
God our Father." — Calvin on Romans viii. 16. 

"Romans viii. 16. 'The Spirit itself beareth witness with our 
spirits that we are the sons of God:' The witness which our own 
spirits do give unto our adoption is the work and effect of the Holy 
Spirit in us ; if it were not, it would be false, and not confirmed by 
the testimony of the Spirit himself, who is the Spirit of truth. 'And 
none knoweth the things of God but the Spirit of God.' 1 Cor. ii. 
11. If he declare not our sonship in us and to us, we cannot know it. 
How doth he then bear witness to our spirits? What is the distinct 
testimony? It must be some such act of his as evidenceth itself to 
be from him, immediately, unto them that are concerned in it, that is, 
those unto whom it is given." — Dr. Owen On the Spirit, sect. 9. 

"The Spirit of adoption doth not only excite us to call upon God 
as our Father, but it doth ascertain and assure us, as before, that we 
are his children. And this it doth not by an outward voice, as God 
the Father to Jesus Christ, nor by an angel, as to Daniel and the 
Virgin Mary, but by an inward and secret suggestion, whereby he 
raiseth our hearts to this persuasion, that God is our Father, and we 
are his children. This is not the testimony of the graces and operations 
of the Spirit, but of the Spirit itself." — Poole on Romans viii. 16. 


favor by the Spirit of adoption is not essentially connected 
with that! system, as its advocates themselves will allow. And 
that it was held by the most eminent divines of that school, 
we may therefore conclude to have resulted, less from their 
peculiar opinions, than the clear evidence of the Scriptures 
that such an attested assurance is the privilege of believers. 
Mr. Southey will perceive, by the above quotations, that 
Mr. 'Wesley is not the only divine to be charged with the en- 
thusiasm of teaching and believing that comfort is given to 
the penitent mind, " tied and bound with the chain of sin," 
and apprehensive of the Divine displeasure, by a direct at- 
testation of pardon by the Spirit of God; and if, in many in- 
stances, language equally explicit has not been used, nor the 
idea as fully brought out, by many modern divines of emi- 
nence, yet is the doctrine so clearly implied in their writings, 
and so substantially expressed, as to prove that none who 
have true views of the Scriptures, of Protestantism, and of 
experimental and practical religion, can go many steps with- 
out allowing it. I do not here speak of those theologians who 
consider Christianity only as a superior system of ethics; nor 
of those who regard the death of Christ as making up the 
balance of human merit before God ; nor of those who view 
Christianity as a mitigated law, requiring, in order to salva- 
tion, a low and imperfect obedience. Wherever these theolo- 
gists are to be found, they are too opposed to the principles 
on which every Protestant Church has been founded, to be 
regarded as authorities. To them, as to Mr. Southey, the 
point in question must appear extravagant and enthusiastic. 
But where the doctrines of human guilt and danger, of re- 
pentance, the necessity of pardon, justification by faith, and 
the influences of the Holy Ghost, are held — as stated, for in- 
stance, in the formularies of the Church of England, and the 
writiugs of her founders — there assurance must be held also, 
and an assurance communicated to the mind of the penitent 
by the Holy Spirit. The fear lest they should lead persons 
to trust too much to impressions, and sometimes perhaps an 
extreme apprehension of being thought enthusiastic them- 
selves, have induced many excellent preachers and writers 
to state the doctrine in a mitigated manner : to teach that re- 
ligious confidence and comfort, as to our personal acceptance 
with God, are to be obtained by comparing the moral changes 

southey's LIFE OF WESLEY. 59 

supposed to have taken place in the mind with those charac- 
teristics of the children of God which are given in the Scrip- 
tures ; and that, when the correspondence is exact, we are war- 
ranted in considering ourselves in a state of filial relationship to 
God. But even in this view, if the inquiry be fairly con- 
ducted, the doctrine of the direct witness of the Spirit is in- 
evitably involved. None of the divines of this respectable 
class conceive that a mere reformation of the external con- 
duct is a sufficient ground for the inference that we are jus- 
tified, and adopted into the family of God : they all contend 
for a change of heart, concomitant with justification, including 
a renewed temper and hallowed affections — love, and con- 
fidence, and peace, and a filial spirit. They all state that 
this change, in all its parts, and throughout its whole pro- 
cess, with all its consolations and joys, is effected by the di- 
rect agency of the Holy Spirit. Between this view, if it were 
more fully and accurately represented on the principles of 
the New Testament, and the opinion charged so boldly with 
the most presumptuous fanaticism by Mr. Southey, there is no 
essential difference. Mr. Wesley's tenet is substantially in- 
cluded in it, and the apparent discrepancy arises from the 
principles assumed not being fairly followed out by those who 
adopt them. They make assurance to rest upon the argu- 
ment, that because certain changes have been effected in the 
hearts of believers, they are pardoned and adopted. But 
these changes are not outward only : they affect the heart : 
they produce holy affections : they include the production of 
peace, of trust, of joy, of hope : they are effected by the 
Spirit of God ; and the whole forms the ground of the assu- 
rance that we are the children of God. This may be further 
illustrated. The question at issue is, "Am I a child of God?" 
The Scriptures declare, that " as many as are led by the 
Spirit of God are the sons of God." I inquire, then, whether 
I have the Spirit of God; and, in order to determine this, I 
examine whether I have " the fruits of the Spirit." Now 
"the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, gentleness, good- 
ness, meekness, faith, temperance;" and having sufficient 
evidence of the existence of these fruits, I conclude I have 
the Spirit of God, and am therefore a pardoned and accepted 
child of God. This is the statement. But among these 
enumerated fruits we find affections, as well as principles and 


morals. We have "love, joy, and peace," as well as-" gentle- 
ness, goo'dness, meekness, faith, and temperance." Now, 
if it be said, on one side, that no one has a right to-eonckde 
that "he is so led by the Spirit of God," as safely to iufer 
that he is a child of God, who has only the affections of 
" peace and joy" to ground his confidence upon, the same 
thing may for as good a reason be affirmed, if he have "meek- 
ness, and temperance," without " love, and peace, and joy :" 
the love, and the peace, and the joy being as much fruits 
of the Spirit as the moral qualities also enumerated. But 
this love, peace, and joy are the fruits of the Spirit's agency; 
and they are the fruits of his agency as the Comforter, the 
Spirit of adoption, and from that alone can the} 7 spring. 
This view of the manner in which assurance is obtained varies 
then from Mr. Wesley's doctrine only in being ambiguous. The 
love, peace, and joy of the Spirit answer to his doctrine of 
the direct witness; and he argues, that they can only be the 
results of that pardon of which we are by them assured; and 
the meekness, gentleness, faith, and temperance, are his cor- 
roborative proofs that our filial confidence, and "joy in the 
Holy Ghost," are not delusions. So near must all those come 
together on this point, who believe in the religion of the 
heart, and the agency of the Holy Spirit; who admit that 
the change which Christianity effects in all who truly receive 
it gives peace to the conscience, and inspires love and filial 
confidence toward God, as well as implants all the principles 
of a spiritual temper and a holy life. If any who profess to 
have such views of religion do not thus approximate on this 
doctrine, it is to be feared that they ground their favorable 
inferences as to personal justification upon too narrow a basis: 
that they leave out many of those premises from which 
alone the conclusion can be fairly drawn ; and it may be well 
for them seriously to consider whether they are "led by the 
Spirit of God," so as to have any authority to conclude that 
they are the " sons of God," when they know him not as the 
Spirit of God " crying, Abba, Father :" as a Comforter, 
abiding with them, and mingling with moral qualities that 
peace and joy which he alone can inspire, and " shedding 
abroad that love of God in the heart," which only can arise 
from a perception of his being " reconciled to us by the death 
of his Son." If, however, it should be asked, why, if the 


view of the doctrine of assurance given above substantially 
implies that of Mr. W^J, he did not teach it in this some- 
what less ex<" , J jtlonat) l e f° rm > I answer : 

a. Inat he had the sanction of the greatest divines of the 
Reformation, and of the Church of England, for the doctrine 
of the assurance of pardon and adoption generally. 

2. That he might plead the authority of the greater number 
of them for the communication of that assurance to the mind 
by the direct agency of the Holy Spirit. 

3. That his mind was too discriminating not to perceive 
that, in the scheme of assurance by inference from moral 
changes only, there was a total neglect of the offices explicitly 
ascribed to the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, and which 
on this scheme are unnecessary; viz., that of bearing wit- 
ness with the spirits of believers that they are the children 
of God; that of the Spirit of adoption, by which they call 
God Father in that special sense in which it is correlative to 
that sonship which we obtain only by a justifying faith in 
Christ; and that of a Comforter, promised to the disciples to 
abide with them "for ever," that their "joy might be full." 

4. That in the scheme of inferential assurance, when stated, 
as above, in a way most accordant with the work of the Holy 
Spirit on the mind, the doctrine of his direct agency in pro- 
ducing love, and peace, and joy — feelings which could not 
exist in the degree spoken of in the gospel as attainable by 
believers, without a previous or concomitant assurance of the 
Divine favor — is implied ; and he felt, therefore, that it ought 
to be fully avowed and taught, both as a less ambiguous 
method of stating the doctrine, and because the sense of sev- 
eral important passages of Scripture is more fully expressed by 
it, and all the offices ascribed in them to the Holy Ghost are 

5. That his own experience, and the experience of thou- 
sands within his own knowledge, had given confirmation to 
his interpretation of the doctrine of inspiration on this sub- 
ject. They had mourned as penitents; they had sought for 
forgiveness, through the merits of the Divine atonement; 
the burden of their sins had been removed; they had "love, 
and peace, and joy;" they were able to repose with filial 
confidence upon God. Nor was this a transient emotion ; it 
was "the permanent sunshine of the breast;" it was not 


affected by outward troubles of H£j: it was unshaken in sick- 
ness, ano>unquenched in death. ArV^w^g^h Mr. Southey 
is enthusiasm ; but it was so connecte<fwit^4^^^. ^ 
a Christian temper, and with works of charity and piefy^ 
was so uniform in those who experienced it, and so eminently 
connected with " gentleness, goodness, meekness, faith, and 
temperance ;" and, in a word, looked so much like a better 
principle, and assimilated so nearly with what is described in 
the word of God as the work of the Spirit, and as " pure and 
undefined religion," that Mr. Wesley was as little disposed to 
succumb to the opinions of the philosophists and formalists 
of his day, who impugned it as an enthusiastic excitement, 
as we, in the present, to bow to the equally important author- 
ity of Mr. Southey. The doctrine is grounded certainly on 
no forced, no fanciful interpretation of Scripture; and it 
holds up, as of possible attainment, one of the richest and 
most important comforts of the human mind. It leaves no 
doubt as to a question which, whilst problematical, must, if 
we are in earnest in seeking our salvation, be fatal to our 
peace — whether we are now accepted of God ; it supposes an 
intercourse between God and the minds of good men in the 
full and genuine spirit of the Christian religion, which is 
eminently called the " ministration of the Spirit;" and it is 
accompanied, as taught by Mr. Wesley, though the contrary 
is by Mr. Southey so often ignorantly supposed, with nothing 
inimical to sober, practical piety. That, like the doctrine of 
justification by faith alone, it is capable of perversion, under 
the mask of religion, is very true. Many have perverted 
both the one and the other. Faith with some has been made 
a discharge from duty ; and with respect to the direct witness 
of the Spirit, fancy has no doubt been taken, in some in- 
stances, for reality. But this could never legitimately follow 
from the holy preaching of Mr. Wesley. His view of the 
doctrine is so opposed to license and real enthusiasm, to pride 
and self-sufficiency, that it can only be made to encourage 
them by so manifest a perversion that it has never occurred 
except among those most ignorant of his writings. He never 
encouraged any to expect this grace but the truly penitent ; to 
whom he prescribed " fruits meet for repentance." He be- 
lieved that justification was always accompanied by conversion 
of the heart ; and as constantly taught that this comfort, this 


assurance, could remain the portion only of the humble and 
spiritual, and was uniformly and exclusively connected with a 
f$ith, sanctifying and obedient. He believed that the fruits 
of the Spirit were love, joy, peace, as well as gentleness, good- 
ness, meekness, and faith ; but he also taught that all who 
were not living under the constant influence of the latter, 
would fatally deceive themselves by any pretensions to the 




Mr. Southey fancies that his notions on the subject of 
assurance are confirmed by circumstances. He is confounded, 
and even shocked, with the records in Mr. Wesley's Journals 
of instantaneous impressions made upon many persons under 
his preaching, and that of his coadjutors, and with the sudden 
transition of others into a state of peace and assurance. The 
inference, therefore, is, that delusion and animal excitement 
supplied the place of genuine conversion. 

This also is a subject on which Mr. Southey is very ill 
qualified to judge. If his views of religion, as far as they 
can be collected from his " Life of Wesley," be correct, then 
his conclusion is just ; but if he be essentially erroneous, (and 
what has already been adduced affords strong presumption 
of it,) what he refers to fancy may have been a sober reality, 
to which his philosophy may have blinded himself, without in 
the least altering the facts of the case as to others. 

All philosophy which opposes itself to the truth is, sooner 
or later, found to be spurious; and Mr. Southey's will not 
long bear that test to which it must be subjected. It is at 
least not Christian philosophy. The facts before him are, 
that not a few persons, but many thousands in different parts 
of the kingdom, were, by the preaching of Mr. Wesley, and 
others, suddenly brought under a religious concern ; that they 
were affected with sorrow for their sinful lives ; that on being 
instructed in the Christian doctrine, that Almighty God " par- 
doneth and absolveth all them that truly repent, and unfeign- 
edly believe his holy gospel/ ' they were brought, often 

southey's LIFE OF WESLEY. 65 

suddenly, into a state of comfort and joy; that the course 
of their tempers and lives became changed; that they lived 
and died* in perfect contrast with their former habits and 
character, " adorning the doctrine of God their Saviour in all 
things." These were the alleged facts for which Mr. Southey 
had to account ; and had he conducted his inquiry in the 
spirit of a true philosopher, instead of writing from his seclu- 
sion on the lakes, with nothing but the books furnished by 
his publisher about him, he would first have ascertained the 
truth of the facts themselves. He would have inquired 
whether, though in some instances the impressions might be 
evanescent, the great majority of persons so influenced under- 
went a permanent moral change of spirit and conduct. To 
such an inquiry he might have received a satisfactory answer; 
as satisfactory as the good report of the nearest observers of 
the lives of the persons in question, in every place of their 
residence ; evidence as strong as can be obtained when the 
characters of men are in question, and which, if resisted in 
this case, may be resisted in that of every man, of every pro- 
fession of religion, whose reformation, and subsequent good 
conduct and Christian demeanor, are also mere matters of 
observation and testimony. In the instances under consid- 
eration, those effects were produced for which religion was 
given to man, and Christianity itself sent down from heaven. 
The commission of St. Paul was thus to reform and to con- 
vert men, by the preaching of the gospel; and when the 
same effects followed the preaching of the same doctrines, by 
men endowed, as even Mr. Southey will sometimes allow, 
with much of the apostle's spirit, what principle does he 

* Mr. Southey has a few slurs at what we call, with many other 
Christians, the "experiences" of pious people, comprising an account 
of their conversion, their life, and the manner of their death. As to 
recording the manner in which good men die, we refer him to the 
venerable Hooker: "The death of the saints of God is precious in 
his sight ; and shall it seem superfluous, at such times as these are, 
to hear in what manner they have ended their lives ? The care of the 
living, both to live and die well, must be increased, when they know 
their departure shall not be folded up in silence. Again : When they 
hear how mercifully God hath dealt with others in the hour of their 
last need, beside the praise they give to God, is not their hope much 
confirmed against the day of their dissolution?" — Sermon on the 
Remedy against Sorrow and Fear. 


assume when he refuses to attribute them to the same causes 
— the force of Divine truth, and God's blessing upon it? 
When the effects are the same, as far as human eye can dis- 
cern ; as complete, as permanent; when the process through 
which the}' were evolved has no essential difference, what is 
the philosophy which assigns a different cause, but a wretched, 
and pitiful prejudice which vanity and affectation have at- 
tempted to dignify with that appellation ? If religious 
enthusiasm could produce such results, then is there as much 
reason to assign this as the cause of conversion, not only in 
the apostolic age, but in all Churches which have possessed a 
faithful, warning, and earnest ministry; for wherever such a 
ministry has existed, it was instituted for the purpose of 
effecting such conversions, and it has always been more or less 
successful. If, on the other hand, we are warranted by the 
Scriptures to expect the conversion of careless, worldly, and 
immoral men from the error of their ways, by the faithful ex- 
hibition of the warning and inviting truths of the gospel in 
the ministry of holy men, then the successes of Mr. Wesley 
accord with the principle, the spirit, and intentions of Chris- 
tianity, and by every Christian philosopher must be resolved 
into its influence. If his success was much greater than that 
of ordinary ministers, he was in " labors more abundant;" if 
it was more extensive, he filled a wider range of action; if 
it was effected among a class of people usually most distin- 
guished for irregularity of conduct, and barbarism of manners, 
the reason was that he sought them out, and carried into their 
streets, and places of resort, an instruction which they had 
never been disposed to seek for themselves. 

But the mere circumstance of the sudden conversion of 
some of Mr. Wesley's hearers, is, with Mr. Southey, fatal to 
any other conclusion than that the excitement produced was 
fanatical. The justice of this conclusion shall also be exam- 

Paley, who will not be suspected of enthusiasm, has the 
following observations on conversion : 

"At this day we have not Jews and Gentiles to preach to; 
but persons in as really an unconverted state as any Jew or 
Gentile could be in our Saviour's time. They are no more 
Christians, as to any actual benefit of Christianity to their 
eouls, than the most hardened Jew, or the most profligate 

southey' s LIFE OF WESLEY. 67 

Gentile, was in the age of the gospel. As to any difference 
in the two cases, the difference is all against them. These 
must be converted before they can be saved. The course of 
tbeir thoughts must be changed, the very principle upon 
which they act must be changed. Considerations which never, 
or hardly ever, entered into their minds, must deeply and 
perpetually engage them. Views and motives which did not 
influence them at all, either as checks from doing evil, or as 
inducements to do good, must become the views and motives 
which they regularly consult, and by which they are guided; 
that is to say, there must be a revolution of principle : the 
visible conduct will follow the change ; but there must be a 
revolution within." 

This "revolution within," this "change in the principle 
of action/' must take place at some specific time. It may be 
slow in reaching that point where it gives the new and com- 
plete turn to the will, the affections, and the habits. This is 
not denied. Mr. Wesley and the Methodists never taught 
that all true conversions were instantaneous, though they be- 
lieved many of them to be so ; but how will Mr. Southey 
prove that all sudden conversions are fictitious and imagin- 
ary? To influence the will, and move the affections to 
serious and spiritual objects, the truths of religion must be 
presented to the mind, for nothing beside has ever been 
known to produce those effects. But to some persons these 
truths may come in the slow process of elementary instruc- 
tion, and serious advice from childhood ; to others they may 
be presented, in all their great features, at once ; or they 
niay be suddenly revived in their minds; and to such they 
will have the additional interest which arises from novelty, 
their habits of life having taken them out of the way of regu- 
lar instruction, and their religious education having either 
been neglected, or its impressions obliterated by the long 
practice of vice. In such cases, what reason can Mr. Southey, 
even in the character of a philosopher, give, why the display 
of the stirring and solemn truths of the gospel, unfolded by 
a living preacher with earnestness, perspicuity, and pathos, 
should not produce strong and sudden effects, and why the 
impressions thus made should not bo deep and lasting? A 
true philosophy might have informed him that minds are dif- 
ferently constituted ; that some men are slow to judge and to 


feel, and that what they hear rarely produces any great imme- 
diate tffect. The impression is made by subsequent reflec- 
tion ; for, like the ruminating animals, they do not feed. for 
immediate digestion, but reserve that to a second process. In 
others the intellectual powers are more active, and the affections 
more yielding. Minds of this class are easily won to an opin- 
ion, or course of action, in the common affairs of life; and 
there exists no reason why this peculiarity of mental dispo- 
sition should not influence religious experience, though a 
superhuman Agent must necessarily be supposed carrying on 
his designs, and exerting his influence, along with and by our 
constitutional qualities. It would be as manifestly absurd to 
deny that true conversion may follow a sudden impression 
upon yielding minds, and to affirm that it must be confined to 
persons of slow and hesitating intellects, as that a decisive 
course of action, of any kind, cannot follow when the motives 
to it are urged upon a susceptible spirit, and the force of them 
is immediately admitted. Determination of the will, and 
perseverance in effort, are essential to rational and proper 
conduct of any kind. But with whatever variety the Creator 
has formed the human spirit, it is not to be supposed that it 
has, in any case, a constitution which renders decisive choice 
and perseverance impracticable. These effects do not always 
result from slow and reluctant operations of mind ; they are 
not inconsistent with susceptibility. Each disposition has its 
disadvantages, and each its excellence. The cautious need 
energy; the ardent, watchfulness and support; but every 
thing rich in sentiment, firm in choice, and constant in action, 
may exist in each class of character. To suppose the con- 
trary would be a reflection on our Maker, who uses variety as 
the means of exhibiting his wisdom, but never sacrifices to it 
his own great and beneficent purposes, and the moral capahil* 
ities of his creatures. From those sudden yieldings of tn«| 
mind to impressions of a religious kind which are so fre- 
quently the objects of Mr. Southey's scoffs, what then can be 
reasonably concluded ? Mr. Southey may not believe in the 
necessity of Divine influence in order to conversion ; but. if 
he thinks conversion from sin to holiness possible, by any 
means, and that nothing more is necessary to effect it than 
the declaration of the doctrines and sanctions of religion, even 
then, had he considered the variety of our mental constitution. 

southey's LIFE OF WESLEY. 69 

his philosophy would have been quite as respectable had he 
allowed that the decisive turn might have been given to the 
will suddenly, and that such an effect is not only a very pos- 
sible, but a very natural, circumstance. The converts in 
question were not above the necessity of further instruction : 
they had, it may be granted, much to learn ; and their very 
susceptibility exposed them to the danger of un steadfastness ; 
but it is enough for the argument, if views of the truth and 
solemnity of religion were communicated in sufficient force to 
influence a right choice, and to produce a new order of affec- 
tions; that the determination was sufficiently decided to lead 
them to renounce evil, and to frequent, with seriousness, those 
ordinances of religion which would administer to them further 
light and renewed strength. But we do not think, with Mr. 
Southey, that conversion is a natural process^ though carried 
on through and by our natural powers. We are better 
instructed, I hope, in the Scriptures, and in the doctrine of 
air true Churches ; though, if we allowed the correctness of 
Mr. Southey's view of this great change, it is sufficiently 
manifest that no good reason lies against the notion that con- 
version may be effected much more rapidly in some minds 
than in others ; and that suddenness and slowness are mere 
circumstances, quite unconnected with the essence of the 
question. We believe the testimony of Scripture, that the 
Spirit is not only given to the disciples of Christ, after they 
assume that character, but in order to their becoming his dis- 
ciples; that, according to the words of our Lord, he is sent 
"to convince the world of sin," to the end that they may 
believe in Christ; and that whenever the gospel is faithfully 
and fully proclaimed by the ministers of Christ, it is " the 
power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth," 
and is made so by the accompanying influence of the Holy 
Ghost. If, for this belief, we are charged with fanaticism, we 
are in too much good company to be put out of countenance; 
but if this doctrine be allowed, it will be difficult to prove 
Mr. Wesley a fanatic for his belief in the reality of sudden 
conversions. Who shall prescribe a mode to Divine opera- 
tion? Who, if he believes in such an influence accompany- 
ing the truth, shall presume to say, that when inspired truth 
is proposed, the attention of the careless shall be roused by a 
gradual and slow process only ? that the heart shall not be 


brought into a state of right feeling as to eternal concerns, but 
by a federation of means which we think most adapted to 
produce that eifect ? or, that no influence on the mind is gen- 
uine and Divine, if it operate not in a prescribed manner? 
that the Holy Spirit shall not avail himself of the variety 
which exists in the mental constitutions of men, to effect his 
purposes of mercy by different methods ? and that the opera- 
tions of grace shall not present, as well as those of nature, 
that beauteous variety which so much illustrates the glory of 
Him " who worketh all in all t" And who shall say that 
even the peculiarities of men's natures shall not, in many 
instances, be even set aside in the course of a Divine and 
secret operation, touching the springs of action, and opening 
the sources of feeling ; giving an intensity of action to the 
one, and a flow to the other, which shall more eminently mark 
His finger in a work which his own glory, and the humility 
proper to man, require should be known and acknowledged as 
the work of God alone? Assuredly there is nothing in the- 
reason of the case to fix the manner of producing such effects 
to one rule, and nothing in Scripture. Instances of sudden 
conversion occur in the New Testament in sufficient number 
to warrant us to conclude that this may be often the mode 
adopted by Divine wisdom, and especially in a slumbering 1 , 
age, to arouse attention to long-despised and neglected truths. 
The conversions at the day of Pentecost were sudden, and, 
for any thing that appears to the contrary, they were real ; for 
the persons so influenced were thought worthy to be " added 
to the Church." Nor was it by the miracle of tongues that 
the effect was produced. If miracles could have converted 
them, they had witnessed greater than even that glorious day 
exhibited. The dead had been raised up in their sight; the 
earth had quaked beneath their feet ; the sun had hid him- 
self, and made an untimely night; the graves had given up 
their dead ; and Christ himself had arisen from a tomb sealed 
and watched. It was not by the impression of the miracles 
of tongues alone, but by that supervenient gracious influence 
which operated with the demonstrative sermon of Peter,, after 
the miracle had excited the attention of his hearers, that they 
were "pricked in their hearts/' and cried, "Men and 
brethren, what shall we do V 

The only true rule of judging of professed conversion is, its 


fruits. The mode may vary, from circumstances of which we 
are not the judges, nor can be, until we know more, both of 
the mystic powers of mind, and of that intercourse which Al- 
mighty God, in his goodness, condescends to hold with it. 
Our author is certainly not a better judge of these matters 
than others ; and the reality of the conversion of thousands 
by the honored ministry of Mr. Wesley stands on evidence 
too decisive to be shaken by the objections he takes to the 
mode; and it would be still unshaken, were those objections 
more powerful than he has been able to make them. By the 
effects we are content that the conversions produced under 
the preaching of the founders of Methodism should be judged.* 

* Of similar effects produced in New England, in the year 1734, 
of which Mr. Southey probably never heard, or he would not have 
spoken of Methodism producing a "new disease," President Edwards 
thus speaks : 

"The extraordinary influence that has lately appeared on the 
minds of the people in this land, causing in them an uncommon con- 
cern about the things of religion, is undoubtedly, in general, from 
the Spirit of God. There are but two things that need to be known in 
order to such a work's being judged of, namely, facts and rules. 
The rules of the word of God we have laid before us ; and as to facts, 
there are but two ways that we can come at them, so as to be in a 
capacity to compare them with the rules : either by our own ob- 
servation, or by information from others that have had opportunity 
\o observe. 

"As to this work that has lately been carried on in the land, there 
are so many things concerning it that are notorious, as, unless the 
Apostle John was out in his rules, are sufficient to determine it to be 
in general the work of God. It is notorious that the Spirit that is 
at work takes off persons' minds from the vanities of the world, en- 
gages them in a deep concern about eternal happiness, puts them 
upon earnestly seeking their salvation, and convinces them of the 
dreadfulness of sin, and of their own guilty and miserable state by 
nature. It is notorious that it awakens men's consciences, and makes 
them sensible of the dreadfulness of God's anger, and causes in them 
a great desire, and earnest care and endeavor, to obtain his favor. 
It is notorious that it puts them upon a more diligent improvement 
of the means of grace which God has appointed. It is also notorious, 
that, in general, it works in persons a greater regard to the word of 
God, and desire of reading it. And it is notoriously manifest, that 
the Spirit in general operates as a Spirit of truth, making persons 
more sensible of what is really true, in those things that concern their 
eternal salvation ; as, that they must die, and that life is very short and 
uncertain ; that there is a great and just God, whom they are ac- 
countable to, and that they stand in great need of a Saviour. It is 



To Mr. Southey, however, it seems eminently strange and 
absurd, not only that inconsiderate persons should suddenly 
become serious under the preaching and advices of Mr. Wes- 
ley and his coadjutors, but that those who were thus im- 
pressed should often profess to have obtained the forgiveness 
of sin, and to have been brought, in some cases instantane- 
ously, into a state of peace and joy of spirit, so as to be able 
to assign the time of their conversion. His observations on 
these facts can create no surprise. The wonder, indeed, is, 
from his almost total unacquaintance with the Scriptures and 
with theological writings, and from the very superficial atten- 
tion he has paid to religious subjects, that he has allowed so 
much good to have arisen from what to him appeared, and 
could not but appear, to be " the high fever of enthusiasm." 
He is therefore less to be censured for the unfavorable sen- 
tences he pronounces upon those who made profession of this ex- 
perience, (a term which, of course, he ridicules,) than for writing 
on a subject for which he was every way so ill furnished. 

It was remarked, in the observations on the doctrine of 
assurance, that, before that subject could be discussed with 
such writers as our author, several important first principles 
must be taken into account. The same remark applies to the 
communication of assurance instantaneously to the mind of a 
true penitent. I shall, however, assume that the doctrine of- 
assurance, generally considered, has been already proved from 
the Scriptures; and if assurance of the favor and forgiveness 
of the Being we have offended be attainable, through the 
merits and intercession of our Saviour, and by the' instru- 
mentality of repentance and an humble trust, it must follow, 
in the first place, that forgiveness itself is an instantaneous 

furthermore notorious, that this Spirit makes persons more sensible 
of the value of that Jesus that was crucified, and their need of him ; 
and that it puts them upon earnestly seeking an interest in him. It 
cannot be but these things should be apparent to people in general 
through the land ; for these things are not done in a corner. The 
work that has been wrought has not been confined to a few towns, 
in some remote parts of the land, but has been carried on in many 
places, and in the principal and most populous and public places in 
it. And it has now been continued for a considerable time ; so that 
there has been a great deal of opportunity to observe the manner of 
the work." — Distinguishing Marks of a Work of God. 

southey's LIFE OP WESLEY. 73 

act. Whatever may be said of the gradual or instantaneous 
manner in which a perception of that act is conveyed to the 
mind, the act of grace admits of no degrees. It is in itself, 
and must be from its nature, instantaneous and complete. 
There is in Almighty God a kind and benignant disposition 
to all mankind ; but as actual forgiveness, and with it adop- 
tion, and the conferring of a title to eternal life, are suspended 
upon conditions, the performance of those conditions, of 
which none but God himself can be the Judge, is necessary 
to pardon. In the moment they are performed, the act of 
grace takes place, and necessarily it can be but the act of a 
moment — one single volition, so to speak, of the mind of God. 
Now, whether our inward perception of this change in our 
relations to a Being whom we have offended, but who is now 
reconciled to us through the merit of his Son, be instanta- 
neous too, and answers to the act of forgiveness in the mind 
of God, is the second step of the inquiry; and, allowing us 
the former premises, the answer must be, in all ordinary 
cases, in the affirmative. It is surely unreasonable to suppose 
that, when an act of forgiveness has taken place, the mind 
Bhould be left in its former doubts and darkness : that it 
should remain oppressed with fear, when the ground of appre- 
hension is, in fact, taken away ; or that those intercourses between 
God and the mind in acts of devotion, the existence of which 
all orthodox divines have held, should not assume a different 
character, and become filial on one part, and paternal on the 
other, and therefore be supporting and consolatory. The 
Scriptures abound in similar representations. To all true 
believers the Almighty is represented as the " God of peace 
and consolation;" as "a Father;" as "dwelling in them, and 
walking in them/' Nay, there is a marked distinction be- 
tween the language of grace and favor used in respect to peni- 
tents and to believers. The declarations as to the former are 
highly consolatory; but they constantly refer to some future 
good designed for them by the God before whom they hum- 
ble themselves, for the encouragement of their seeking 
prayers, and their efforts of trust. " To that man will I look," 
(a Hebraism for showing favor,) " saith the Lord, who is poor, 
and of a contrite spirit." The "weary and heavy laden" are 
invited to Christ, that he may "give rest to their souls." 
The apostles exhorted men to repent and be baptized, (et?,) m 




order to the remission of sins. But to all who, in the Chris- 
tian _s»nse, are believers, or who have the faith by which we are, 
justified, the language is much higher : " We have peace with 
God." " We joy in God, through Christ ; by whom we have re- 
ceived the atonement." They are exhorted to " rejoice in the 
Lord always." " The spirit of bondage" is exchanged for "the. 
Spirit of adoption." They are " Christ's." They are " children, 
heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ." They "rejoice in 
hope of the glory of God." They are " always confident, 
knowing that, whilst at home in the body, they are absent 
from the Lord ; but that, when absent from the body, they 
shall be present with the Lord." 

This state il confidence, joy, and hope, then, is not only 
attainable by true Christians, but it forms an entire contrast 
with their feelings in the early stage of their religious experi- 
ence, when, as the Church of England expresses it, they 
" are tied and bound with the chain of their sins," and are 
beseeching " the pitifulness of the Divine mercy to unloose 
them." Now, between these states of religious depression 
and peace, there is a vast distance. And though the rapidity 
with which the mind may pass from one to the other is a sub- 
ject which we cannot reduce to any law, or pretend to bring 
within any rule, without betraying either ignorance or pre- 
sumption, there must still be a point, whether reached gra- 
dually, or by the sudden influence of encouraging truths 
presented to the mind, under the grace of the Divine Spirit, 
exciting its trust, where doubt gives place to confidence, and 
agitation is tranquillized by the power of reposing entirely on 
the promises of God. And this holds equally good, whether 
the theory of assurance be, that it is obtained indirectly by 
inference from the Scriptures, or by immediate communica- 
tion from the Spirit of God, corroborated by those fruits and 
characters which in the Scriptures are said to accompany his 
presence as the Spirit of adoption, and the Comforter. The 
mode is not essential to the argument, though an important 
question in itself. In either case the assurance, which is 
complete and satisfactory, however obtained, stands opposed 
to the previous state of doubt; and the transition from the 
one to the other, whatever may be the degree of approach to 
assurance — however alleviated the previous doubts may have 
been by hope, on one side of this point of rest and con- 

southey's LIFE OF WESLEY. 75 

fidence, and however the subsequent faith may advance in 
strength on the other — can be only the work of a moment j 
a fact of which our consciousness in other respects may well 
enough assure us. The transition will be more marked in 
gome cases than in others : that depends upon the state of 
the mind immediately previous to its becoming assured of the 
Divine favor, as that again depends both upon natural sus- 
ceptibility, and, with all deference to Mr. Southey, upon the 
modes of Divine operation. The' rising of the sun is more 
exactly marked at the equator than near the poles, because 
there is less twilight. A poignant distress of mind, a feeling 
such as that* which the liturgy describes under the term 
"miserable sinners," may remain until the moment the mind 
is enabled to apprehend and appropriate to itself the consola- 
tory promises of the gospel ; and in that case, as the change 
is more strikingly distinguished, it is a natural result that the 
time should be often ascertained; that it should be deeply 
written in the tablet of a grateful memory, and be recurred to 
with humble and adoring admiration of the love and conde- 
scension of God. Paley has a passage in his sermons imme- 
diately following the extract before given, which, though on 
conversion generally, is applicable here : 

(, A change so entire, so deep, and important as this, I do 
allow to be conversion ; and no one, who is in the situation 
above described, can be saved without undergoing it; and he 
must, necessarily, both be sensible of it at the same time, and 
remember it all his life afterwards. It is too momentous an 
event ever to be forgotten. A man might as easily forget his 
escape from a shipwreck. Whether it was sudden, or whether 
it was gradual, if it was effected, (and the fruits will prove 
that,) it was a true conversion ; and every such person may 
justly both believe and say to himself, that he was converted 
at a particular assignable time. It may uot be necessary to 
speak of his conversion ; but he will always think of it with 
unbounded thankfulness to the Giver of all grace, the Author 
of all mercies, spiritual as well as temporal." 

Both on the subject of assurance, and its communication 
to the mind, Mr. Southey has judged as though these doc- 
trines were isolated from the common faith, and almost pecu- 
liar to Mr. Wesley; and from this his incautious charges 
of fanaticism have proceeded. If the Scriptures connect 


grief of mind with repentance; and pardon, filial intercourse 
with*Grod, and peace, with faith j the doctrine of assurance 
inevitably follows ; but if repentance be a mere form of con- 
trite words, and faith a simple opinion, and devotion a senti- 
mental ceremony, then are we, and all who hold the doctrine, 
fanatical and visionary. Let Mr. Southey choose between the 
horns of the dilemma. In one case he must recall or very 
much modify his aspersions of Mr. Wesley and his followers j 
in the other he must renounce his profession of Christianity, 
and return to Socinianism or infidelity. 

southey' s LIFE OF WESLEY. 77 



Mr. Southey gives special prominence in his work to 
what he calls " the extravagances" of Methodism. The 
"outcries," and other irregularities, which occurred in con- 
sequence of the preaching of Mr. Wesley and his fellow- 
laborers, are carefully collected, and on every occasion pre- 
sented to the reader, together with such extracts from Mr. 
"Wesley's Journals, from letters, and other publications, as 
may best serve the purpose of exhibiting a frightful or ridi- 
culous picture. The occurrences thus selected as illustra- 
tions of the enthusiasm of the founders of Methodism and 
their followers, could not but arrest the attention of Mr. 
8outhey; and it will, without hesitancy, be allowed that a 
biography of Mr. Wesley would have been incomplete with- 
out due notice of them. They were circumstances which 
Mr. Wesley himself felt no wish to suppress, and are fair 
subjects of remark by a writer of his Life. That they are 
brought forward, is not, therefore, matter of complaint ; but 
the manner in which they are exhibited, and the use made 
of them, lie open to animadversion. Whether these alleged 
"extravagances" were wholly to be condemned, or admit 
of explanation and excuse, are questions I lay aside for the 
present. Let them be considered as ridiculous and as hypo- 
critical as Mr. Southey pleases, this shall not now be disputed 
with him. The objection is, that they are not stated fairly 
and liberally. 

In the first place, they are made so prominent, that tho 
impression upon the reader not acquainted with the entire 
history of Mr. Wesley is, that, in its early stages at least, 


wherever he and his preachers went, scenes of confusion and 
disorder occurred among their hearers; and that outeries; 
bodily convulsions, raptures, and ecstasies, uniformly marked 
the introduction and progress of Methodism. This error has 
arisen partly from the " Life of Wesley" having been com- 
piled only from books. When these extraordinary* circum- 
stances occurred, they were of course marked ; and because 
they were extraordinary they found a place in Mr. Wesley's 
Journals. The recurrence of them, there, has led Mr. 
Southey to suppose that they were much more general and 
frequent than is the fact ; but had he even more carefully 
perused the Journals, he would have seen Mr. Wesley prose- 
cuting his labors through a vast extent of country, raising up 
societies, and scattering the seeds of truth and piety, without 
any of these extraordinary circumstances occurring.' Strong 
impressions were undoubtedly made on the minds of his 
bearers ; great numbers of them were brought under a reltJ 
gious concern, deep, powerful, and permanent; and in almost 
every place the preaching of the doctrines of atonement and 
pardon dried up the tears of the contrite, and turned their 
sorrows into joy. These effects were general; but Mr; 
Southey has misled his readers — unintentionally, I grant; 
because he was misled himself — by representing the irregula- 
rities on which he dwells with so much emphasis as very 
frequent, and almost universal. Powerful awakenings of the 
dormant mind constantly followed a ministry so singularly 
owned of God; but they were not always accompanied by 
those circumstances which Mr. Southey deems extravagant, 
and which, in some cases, were so in reality. He has beea 
attracted to that stream of religious influence which Mr. 
Wesley was the instrument of conveying into every part of 
the nation, only where, by accidental occurrences, it whirled 
in eddies, and was chafed among the shallows ; but he has 
refused to follow it when, in deep and noiseless flow, it 
spread along its course the beauty and the fruit of moral 

It is another mistake, and not unaccompanied with illiberal 
remark, that Mr. Wesley was eager to record and publish 
accounts of- the extraordinary effects produced by his preach- 
ing "as proofs of his power." Mr. Wesley was no boaster. 
He was often obliged to speak of himself and of that work 

southey' s LIFE OF WESLEY. 79 

which he had been the instrument of effecting, because his 
character aDd motives were the constant subjects of the in- 
temperate abuse of his enemies. He was under the necessity 
of bringing forward the effects produced by that extended 
Bjatem of religious agency of which he was the founder and 
the head, to show that the work so effected was of God, a 
revival of true religion in the land. He could not hide it, 
that he and his first coadjutors had been the great instruments 
in that work ; and to attempt it would have been mere affecta- 
tion. But few men who have done so much, have been so 
free from boasting and vanity : no successful minister of Christ 
ever more humbly laid the trophies won from the world by his 
efforts at the feet of Him by whom the victory was achieved. 
Mr. Southey, indeed, like the rest of his school, considers it 
ipiritual pride and boasting for any to speak of themselves, 
even as " instruments" in the hand of God, however humble 
the spirit in which this may be conceived; and it is a conclu- 
sion natural enough to men who are not conscious of having 
ever been employed under a Divine direction in the accom- 
plishment of any great and beneficial purpose, and to whom 
prayer for success in such an endeavor would appear gross 
enthusiasm. This is the fault of the school in which Mr. 
Bouthey has been trained. I dispute not now with it ; but if 
Mr. Wesley erred in this, he erred with St. Paul, and with 
every minister of Christ distinguished for his success in the 
oonversion of men, and the revival of the spirit of true reli- 
gion. All true Christians know that a belief in their own 
instrumentality as agents of the Divine mercy to men is per- 
fectly consistent with humility of mind ; and with them it 
will be a sufficient answer to the aspersion that Mr. Wesley 
wag anxious to record singular successes, and answers to his 
prayers, in order to " proclaim his power," that this is contra- 
dicted both by his writings, and the spirit in which he lived 
Mid died. He recorded them, in every case where he believed 
the effect to be genuine, not to proclaim his own power, but 
"the power of God/' 

Nor does it follow, as Mr. Southey seems to have under- 
wood it, that every instance of strong impression produced 
onder his preaching was considered by Mr. Wesley as genu- 
ine > or that, by recording such circumstances in his Journal 
w Magazine, he gave an opinion in their favor. He believed 


some of these effects to be the results of natural sympathy • 
others to be imitations effected by Mr. Southey' s "personified 
principle of evil," to bring into disrepute the work of the 
Spirit of God upon the hearts of men, of the reality of which 
he was firmly- persuaded, and on grounds perhaps as strong as 
those on which Mr. Southey accounts it enthusiasm ; for he 
brought to the examination of the question, beyond all doubt 
quite as good a store of logic and of learning. Some decep- 
tions he not only admitted, but publicly stated ; not indeed to 
establish the sweeping conclusion that all was unreal, because 
a part, a very small part, was visionary ; or that all was of 
Satan, because all was not of God. Mr. Wesley was wisely 
tender, even in cases to which Mr. Southey and other super- 
ficial thinkers on religious subjects would have shdwed no 
moderation ; and sufficient reasons might be given to justify 
his conduct, though, in some instances, his charity was carried 
to excess. He had seen strong and singular effects produced 
upon many of his hearers; he had also seen great- good, 
amounting to an entire moral change, consequent upon theih. 
It was his intense desire to see this latter result produced 
which made him regard the former of much less consequence 
than they appear to Mr. Southey. He lost the circumstances 
in the essence of the case : Mr. Southey would have mea- 
sured the essence by the circumstances. Had Mr. Southey 
been a clergyman at that period, in vain would a disconsolate 
spirit have come to him for spiritual advice, except the phrase 
in which it was sought had been quite " rational," and the 
deportment of the inquirer very measured. The mention of 
the " burden of sin," though found in his liturgy, would have 
called up all his suspicions of fanaticism ; a sob from a broken 
heart would have seriously disturbed his philosophic com- 
posure ; and any expression of mental agony in the positions 
of the body, or aspect of the countenance, would probably 
have put him to flight. Mr. Wesley had other views. He 
had seen real good consequent upon these circumstances; 
but he never believed that good to flow from them as its cause. 
He went higher than that. Those emotions might be the col- 
lateral or the secondary effects of the same cause, or they might 
result from a different one. In every case he hoped for good, 
and therefore sought it : one great secret of his success. He 
did not stay to contend witlj circumstances, even when they 

southey's life or wesley. 81 

were not agreeable to him ; he applied himself directly to the 
heart. He instructed the ignorant ; pointed the sorrowful to 
the only source of comfort ; explained the scriptural method 
of salvation ; and gradually drew off the mind from what was 
visionary, and, in truth, extravagant, (and both occasionally 
did occur,) to the sober realities of religion taught in his own 
sound doctrine, and enforced by his practical discipline. This 
was the way in which Mr. Wesley treated all cases of extra- 
ordinary emotion; and he judged better than a thousand 
sciolists when he concluded that, in ignorant and inexperi- 
enced persons, much good principle may be mixed with fancy 
and oblique feeling. He acted too in the right spirit of a 
Christian minister ; he had " compassion on them that were 
ignorant," as well as " out of the way." From a frigid phi- 
losophy and a callous formality such persons would have derived 
nothing; their errors had remained with them, and their 
latent virtues perished under the load. Many a spirit, in 
danger both from ignorance and its own peculiar constitution, 
was saved by his confiding charity, which "thought no evil;" 
and if in some cases there were deceptions, and in others an 
insuperable obstinacy, they neither impugn the sobriety of his 
judgment, where perhaps he himself appears most enthusi- 
astic, nor can they dim the lustre of that benignity of mind 
.which insured to every inquirer patient attention and sympa- 
thizing counsel, forbearance with their weaknesses, and respect 
for their assumed sincerity. 

Another false impression which is conveyed by the biogra- 
pher's remarks on "the extravagances of the Methodists" 
is, that great importance was attached by Mr. Wesley to those 
emotions, and bodily affections, which occasionally occurred ; 
and that the most visionary persons, and those who pretended 
ecstasies, dreams, etc., were, at least in the early part of his 
Ministry, the objects of his special respect, as eminently holy 
and favored persons. This is so far from the fact, that it is 
difficult to meet with a divine whose views of religion are 
aore practical and defined. He did not deny that occasion- 
ally "God," even now, "speaketh in a dream, in a vision of 
the night," and that he may thus " open the ears of men to 
instruction, and command them to depart from iniquity;" 
that, in point of fact, many indisputable cases of this kind 
have occurred in modern times ; and in this belief he agreed 



witjj many of the wisest and the "best of men. H^ hag 
recorded some cases of what may be called ecstasy, generally 
without an opinion of his own, leaving every one to fofrn his 
own judgment from the recorded cases. He unquestionably 
believed in special effusions of the influence of the Holy 
Spirit upon congregations and individuals, producing powerful 
emotions of mind, expressed in some instances by bodily affec- 
tions ; and he has furnished some facts on which Mr. Southey 
has exercised his philosophy probably with a success more sat- 
isfactory to himself than convincing to his readers. But that 
any thing extraordinary, either of bodily or mental affection, 
was by him at any time of his life, of itself, deemed so im- 
portant as to be regarded as a mark of superior piety, is a 
most unfounded assumption. Those of his Sermons and his 
Notes on the New Testament which contain the doctrines 
which he deemed essential, and the rules by which every 
member of his societies was required to be governed, are suf- 
ficiently in refutation of this notion. In them no reference is 
made to any thing visionary as a part, however small, of true 
religion ; except all spiritual religion changing the heart, and 
sanctifying the affections, be indeed thought visionary. The 
rule of admission into his societies was of the most practical 
nature, " a desire to flee from the wrath to come," the sin- 
cerity of which was to be determined by corresponding fruits, 
in the conduct ; and on this condition only, further explained 
by detailed regulations, all of them simple and practical, were 
his members to remain in connection with him. These rules 
remain in force to this day, and are the standing evidence 
that, from the first formation of the Methodist societies, 
neither a speculative nor a visionary scheme of religion was 
the basis of their union. Had Mr. Wesley placed religion, 
in the least, in those circumstances which make so conspicu- 
ous a figure in Mr. Southey's pages, he would have given to 
his societies a very different standard of doctrine in his Ser- 
mons; and their rules would have borne an equivocal and 
mystic character. Mr. Southey, who has qualified himself 
for some of his poems by the legendary lore of the Romish 
Church, is fond of tracing comparisons between the extrava- 
gances of the Catholic saints and the Methodists. All is not 
evil in the Papal Church, though all is more or less corrupted. 
The greatest religious errors usually rest upon some truth; 

southey' s LIFE OF WESLEY. 83 

and the greater the error, the more important often is the 
truth on which it leans for authority. It does not, however, 
logically follow, that they who hold a truth in common with 
those who hold it erroneously, and in a corrupted and extrava- 
gant form, must also hold it erroneously and extravagantly; 
and yet this is an absurdity into which Mr. Southey often 
falls when he is taught by a book, refuted long ago, to com- 
pare "the enthusiasm of Methodists and Papists." This is 
the usual effect of analogical reasoning, when the things com- 
pared are but half understood. The Romanists have in all 
ages had their devotees, and ecstatics, and rapturists • as such, 
they were held up to peculiar respect and veneration ; and 
the temptation to imitation and deception, therefore, was 
strong in proportion to the estimation in which such fervors 
were held, and the consideration to which they entitled the 
subjects of them. Had any considerable number of persons 
making such pretensions ever appeared among the Method- 
ists, the parallel between us and the Catholics would not 
even then have been just ; for visionaries have no eminence 
of consideration among us, nor ever had. But the number 
has been few, and seldom have they remained long ; the rule 
of judgment as to our members having from the beginning 
been "faith, which worketh by love." Even those whose 
conversion has been accompanied with circumstances some- 
what extraordinary receive no peculiar respect, and are enti- 
tled to no office, on that account. A steady, fervent, habitual, 
and practical piety, is now, as in the days of Mr. Wesley, 
the only standard by which the professions of our members 
are estimated. 

These observations may be sufficient to show that the man- 
ner in which Mr. Southey has stated what he calls the " ex- 
travagances" of the Methodists is unfair, and calculated to 
make a false impression ; the use he makes of these circum- 
stances comes next in order — they were decided indications 
of enthusiasm. 

In some cases they were; and had this been the inference, 
Mr. Southey's opinion would have remained unmolested. 
But into this conclusion, not only are several extraordinary 
cases of irregularity and exuberant feeling pressed, but all 
those instances in which Mr. Wesley s congregations were 
powerfully affected under his sermons, and where individuals 


were brought into strong distress of spirit on account of their 
sinfulness, and afterwards attained an inward peace, . in. the 
full persuasion that through the merits of Christ they were 
forgiven. Mr. Southey would have been much better entitled 
to the praise of a fair and candid reasoner, on the principles 
of Scripture, had he exercised as to these facts some discrimi- 
nation. He would then have said, "Here are effects which, 
whatever may be thought of the manner in which the|y were 
produced, are clearly proved by their fruits to be genuine; 
here are others which may be called hopeful ; others suspicious; 
others deceptive." Any difference of opinion which reinained 
as to particular cases, or the proportion to be assigned to each 
class, might then have been easily settled. Mr. Wesley did 
not believe that all who were affected by his ministry were 
converted ; nor all that presented an equally hopeful charac- 
ter; but he knew, by their subsequent conduct, that great 
numbers were enlightened and sanctified by the truth oft the 
gospel ; and among them many in whom those strong emo- 
tions had been excited which our author considers so fatally 
indicative of "the high fever of enthusiasm/' Many good 
effects are indeed acknowledged by the author; and yet good, 
bad, and doubtful are resolved into enthusiasm as their Gom- 
mon and philosophic cause. Thus has he gone much beyond 
all his predecessors in puzzling and confounding a term, before 
sufficiently equivocal, by allowing it to have effected, in many 
instances, a moral and a "permanent benefit," and in assign- 
ing to enthusiasm the office which has been usually attributed 
exclusively to true religion. How he will settle this poiift, 
both with his Christian and his skeptical friends, cannot w$ll 
be conjectured. The former may well suspect that he con- 
siders all religion as a modification of enthusiasm ; the oth$ 
will probably object that his Christianity, small as is its degre^ 
has somewhat darkened the light of his philosophy; and that 
he has conceded what will prove religious enthusiasm to be a 
better and a more efficient principle than a true philosopher 
ought to have allowed. 

The effects produced by the ministry of the Wesleys, Mr. 
Whitefield, and others, in different parts of the country, are 
stated also as though they presented cases entirely new' and 
peculiar. Here is another error. For though the effects 
were so extraordinary that many thousands in the course of a 

southey's life OF WESLEY. 85 

few years, and of those too who had lived in the greatest 
ttnconcern as to spiritual things, and were most ignorant and 
depraved in their habits, were recovered from their vices, and 
the moral appearance of whole neighborhoods changed, yet 
the effects were neither new in themselves, nor even in those 
circumstances which Mr. South ey thinks most singular and 
exceptionable. He was too little acquainted with ecclesiasti- 
cal history to correct himself on this point ; or he has given his 
attention only to the politics of the professed Church of Christ 
in different ages — the story rather of its worldly contests, than 
of its contests with the world ; or he would have known that 
great and rapid effects of this kind, as well as in nominal tri- 
umphs, were produced in the first ages of Christianity; and 
that Dot without "outcries," and strong corporal as well as 
mental emotions, nay, and extravagances too, and, by perver- 
sion, condemnable heresies, and a rank and real enthusiasm. 
Would he from this argue against Christianity itself; or 
asperse the labors and characters of those holy men who 
planted its genuine root in Asia, Africa, and Europe ; and 
say that because, through the corrupt nature of men, evil 
often accompanies good, one is to be confounded with the 
other, and that they were the authors of the evil because they 
were the instruments of the good ? Had Mr. Southey known 
the best part of the history of Christianity, he would have 
recollected that, upon the decline of true piety in that promi- 
nent part of the Church of Christ which occupies, unfortu- 
nately for the instruction of mankind, the most conspicuous 
place in its annals, there were not wanting holy and zealous 
ministers to carry out the tidings of salvation to the barbarous 
ancestors of European nations, and that strong and effectual 
impressions were made by their faithful and powerful preach- 
ing upon the savage multitudes who surrounded them, accom- 
panied with many effects similar to those which attended the 
preaching of the Wesleys and Whitefield ; for all who went 
on these sacred missions were not enthusiasts, nor were all 
the conversions effected by them a mere exchauge of super- 
stitions. He would have known that similar effects accom- 
panied the preaching of many eminent men at the Reforma- 
tion; and that many of the Puritan ministers had similar 
successes in large districts in our own country. I may diffei 
from the politics of some of these divines, as may Mr. 



Southey ; but I envy not the mind which can forget, in /this 
consideration, their elevated piety, their vast theological 
acquirements, their laborious occupancy of time, an^.that 
"fruitful preaching," to use the expressive phrase of th(j day, 
which filled their parishes with a light and truth whic^had 
not the violence of political parties on both sides served by 
.different processes to extinguish it, would probably have left 
the founders of Methodism a much narrower sphere of (action. 
He would also have known that, in Scotland, similar effects 
had been produced by the ministry of faithful men, attended 
by very similar circumstances ; and also among thel grave 
Presbyterians of New England, previous to the rise of Method- 
ism; and he would have been informed that, thoughlon a 
smaller scale, the same results have followed the ministry of 
modern missionaries of different religious societies in different 
parts of the world. The circumstances on which Mr. Southey 
dwells, though extraordinary, were not, therefore, as he repre- 
sents them, either new or peculiar to Methodism ; and his. 
method of accounting for them must take a wider range to 
meet all the cases to which we have adverted. It ma^ be- 
laid down as a principle established by fact, that, whenever a 
zealous and faithful ministry is raised up, after a long suirit- 
ual dearth, the early effects of that ministry are not only wM 
erful, but often attended with extraordinary circumstances ;1b»P 
are such extraordinary circumstances necessarily extravagancy 
because they are not common. 

There is a doctrine of Scripture of which Mr. Southey has 
probably never heard, but it may, perhaps, better explain 
these phenomena than the absurdities which he adopts; and 
though, of course, I must be numbered with enthusiasts, in 
his estimation, it will not cost me much anxiety to venture to 
offer it as a much better solution than any which his work 
contains. If there be a truth in holy writ explicit and decided, 
it is this, that the success of the ministry of the gospel, in 
the conversion of men, is the fruit of Divine influence; and 
if there be a well-ascertained fact in ecclesiastical story, it is 
that no great and indisputable results of this kind have been 
produced except by men who have acknowledged this truth, 
and have gone forth in humble dependence upon that pro- 
mised cooperation contained in the words, "And, lo, I am 
with you al way, even to the end of .the world." This fact, 

southey's LIFE OP WESLEY. 87 

equally striking and notorious, is a strong confirmation that 
the sense of the sacred oracles on this point was not mistaken 
by them. The testimony of the word of God is, that, as to 
ministerial success, "God giveth the increase;" the testimony 
of experience is, that no success in producing true conversion 
has ever taken place in any Church, but when this coopera- 
tion of God has been acknowledged and sought by the agents 
employed in it. 

• The doctrine of Divine influence, as necessary to the con- 
version of men, being thus grounded on the evidence of Scrip- 
ture, and further confirmed by fact, it may follow, and that in 
perfect conformity with revelation, that such influences may 
be dispensed in different degrees at different periods. That 
they were more eminently given at the first establishment of 
Christianity than at some future periods, is certain; and not 
only in extraordinary gifts, (for though those might awaken 
attention and silence unbelief, we have the evidence of Scrip- 
tare history to prove that miracles cannot of themselves con- 
vert men from vice,) but in sanctifying influence, without 
which the heart is never brought to yield its choice and 
affections to the authority and will of God. That in various 
subsequent periods there have been special dispensations of 
favor to nations, with reference to the improvement of their 
moral state, is clear from a fact which cannot be denied, that 
eminently holy and gifted men have been raised up at such 
periods for the benefit of the countries and the age iu which 
they appeared, from whose exertions those countries have 
derived the highest moral advantages. For reasons before 
given, we do not refer the appearance of such men to chance, 
nor the formation of their characters to the circumstances and 
spirit of " stirring times." We leave these conclusions to the 
godless philosophy of Mr. Southey; and recognize in the 
appearance of such instruments, the merciful designs and 
special grace of Him "who worketh all and in all." But 
the argument is, that if such men have really been the agents 
in "turning many to righteousness;" and that the principles 
of our religion forbid us to conclude that this can be done by 
any gifts or qualities in the agents, however lofty; then, 
according to the Scripture doctrine, they were " workers toge- 
ther with God," and the age in which they labored was dis- 
tinguished by larger effusions of the Holy Spirit upon the 


minds of men. Why this should occur at one time' -more 
eminently than at another, we pretend not to say j but even 
this notion, so enthusiastic probably to Mr. Southey, is still ia 
the spirit of Scripture, which declares that "the wind bloweth 
where it listeth ;" and that the Holy Spirit, like the atmo- 
sphere, is subject to laws not ascertainable by man. And if 
this effusion of his influence argue especial, though undeserved, 
favor to particular nations and ages, this is not more difficult 
to account for than that, at some periods and places, men of 
eminent usefulness should be sent into the world, when they 
do not appear in others ; which, being a mere matter of fact, 
leaves no room for cavil. This view, likewise, accords with 
what the Scriptures teach us to expect as to the future. To 
the glorious views unfolded by the sure word of prophecy, 
Mr. Southey, it may be feared, has but seldom turned, and 
but superficially considered. But serious Christians have been 
■animated in their efforts for the extension of religion, by 
believing them to be connected with that wonderful adminis- 
tration of the affairs of this world by the Redeemer God, 
which is to issue in the abolition of crimes, and the restora- 
tion of the whole earth to righteousness. For the full accom- 
plishment of this sublime consummation of the Divine coun- 
sels, agents of great efficiency and qualifications, they believe, 
will from time to time appear; but their hope does not rest 
on them, but on Him only who has explicitly promised to 
" pour out his Spirit upon all flesh," at once to give efficiency 
to instruments in themselves feeble, however gifted, and "to 
order the unruly wills and passions of men/' that they may 
be subdued and sanctified by the truth. If such effusions of 
Divine influence are looked for, and on such principles, as the 
means of spreading the power of Christianity generally, we 
may surely believe it quite accordant both with the spirit and 
letter of Scripture, that the same influence should often be 
exerted to preserve and to revive religion ; and that if nations, 
already Christian, are to be the instruments of extending 
Christianity, not in name only, but in its spirit and sanctity, 
into all the earth, they should be prepared for this high designa- 
tion by the special exercise of the same agency, turning them 
from what is merely formal in religion, to its realities, and 
making them examples to others of the purifying grace of the 
goepol *£ God our Saviour. Let it then be supposed (no 

southey's LIFE OF WESLEY. 89 

great presumption, indeed) that Christians have quite as 
good a foundation for these opinions as Mr. Southey can boast 
for that paltry philosophy by which he would explain the 
effects produced by the preaching of holy and zealous minis- 
ters in different ages ; and we may conclude that such effects, 
as far as they were genuine, were the results of Divine influ- 
ence; and when numerous and rapid, of a Divine influence 
specially and eminently exerted, giving more than ordinary 
assistance to the minds of men in their religious concerns, 
and rendering the obstinate more inexcusable by louder and 
more explicit calls. Of the extraordinary circumstances 
which have usually accompanied such visitations, it may be 
said, that if some should be resolved into purely natural 
causes, some into real enthusiasm, and, with Mr. Southey's 
leave, others into satanic imitation, a sufficient number will 
remain, which can only be explained by considering them as 
the effects of a strong impression made upon the consciences 
and affections of men by an influence ascertained to be Divine, 
though, usually, exerted through human instrumentality, by 
its unquestionable effects upon the heart and life. Nor is it 
either irrational or unscriptural to suppose that times of great 
national darkness and depravity — the case certainly of this 
country at the outset of Mr. Wesley and his colleagues in 
their glorious career — should require a strong remedy; and 
that the attention of a sleeping world should be roused by 
circumstances which could not fail to be noticed by the most 
unthinking. We do not attach primary importance to second- 
ary circumstances; but they are not to be wholly disregarded. 
The Lord was not in the wind, nor in the earthquake, nor in 
the fire, but in the "still small voice;'' yet that "still small 
voice" might not have been heard, except by minds roused 
from their inattention by the shaking of the earth, and the 
resounding of the storm. 

If, however, no special and peculiar exertion of Divine in- 
fluence on the minds of many of Mr. Wesley's hearers be 
supposed — if we only assume that the ordinary influence 
which, as we have seen, must accompany the labors of every 
minister of Christ to render them successful in saving men, 
was exerted in this case — the strong emotions often produced 
by the preaching of the founder of Methodism might be 
accounted for on principles very different from those* adopted 


by IV^r. Southey. The multitudes to whom he preached were 
generally grossly ignorant of the gospel. He poured upon 
their minds a flood of light. His discourses were plain, 
pointed, earnest, and affectionate. The feeling produced was 
deep, piercing, and in numberless cases genuine — such as we 
have no right, if we believe the Bible, to attribute to any 
other cause than that inward operation of God with his truth 
which alone can render human means effectual. Many of 
those on whom such impressions were made retired in silence, 
and nurtured them by reflection. The stricken deer hastened 
into solitude, there to bleed, unobserved by all but God. 
This was the case with the majority; for those visible and 
strong emotions which Mr. Southey has made so prominent in 
his work, were the occasional and not the constant results. 
At some seasons effects were produced which, on Christian 
principles, I hesitate not to say, can only be accounted for on 
the assumption that the influence was both Divine and special. 
At .others the impression was great ; but yet we need suppose 
nothing more than the ordinary blessing of God which accom- 
panies u the word of his grace," when delivered in the fulness 
of faith and love, in order to account for it. But beside those 
who were silently pierced, and whose minds were sufficiently 
strong to command their emotions, there were many often 
present belonging to a class not accustomed to put such 
restraints upon themselves. To a powerful feeling they offered 
but a slight resistance, and it became visible. To some 
people then, as now, this would appear extravagant j but on 
what principle can the genuineness of the impression be ques- 
tioned ? Only if no subsequent fruit appeared; for if a true 
conversion followed, then, if there be truth in religion itself, 
the ''finger of God" must be acknowledged. 

This is the philosophy which we apply to the matter at 
issue:' let me now turn to that of Mr. Southey.' His great 
principle of solution is, the occurrence of " a new disease, 
which disposed its subjects to religious impressions, and was 
withal infectious — a disease which had its commencement and 
its crisis ; but as to its termination, whether in cure or mortal- 
ity, he is silent. The commencement was "an extravagant 
opinion, as to human corruption, throwing the patient into 
distress, and sometimes horror :" the crisis was the profession 
of Having obtained forgiveness of sins through the merits of 

southey's life or wesley. 91 

Christ. But what followed upon this crisis ? Mr. Southey is 
very cautious not to describe the future effects, as being pro- 
bably aware that, were he to proceed to the consequent holy 
lives and peaceful deaths of many of the patients, the " new 
disease" would have too much the appearance of "saving 
health," to support his theory. I shall not exhaust the 
patience of the reader by attempting an exposure of this folly, 
which only affords another instance to prove how much faith 
it requires to constitute an unbeliever. But the absurdity, 
great as it is, is important, first, as it shows that the case had 
become too hard for the solvents which Mr. Southey at first 
applied to it — the eloquence of Mr. Whitefield, the address 
and landscape-preaching of Mr. Wesley ; and, secondly, that 
his researches into the history of Methodism presented to 
him facts so extraordinary, that he felt that no ordinary cause 
could satisfactorily account for them. How difficult is it for 
minds inflated by a conceited science to acknowledge God ! 
Here is a case extraordinary indeed; but still extraordinary 
only in extent, not in principle — a case of the conversion of 
many thousands of persons from the " error of their ways," 
and which Mr. Southey acknowledges to have been a "change 
operated in their moral habits and principles ;" and yet he 
gravely looks his readers in the face, as though confident of 
receiving the fall meed of praise for the philosophic dis- 
covery, and refers the whole to the occurrence of a new bodily 

Further comment upon this would be trifling ; but before 
I leave the subject of enthusiasm, I will inform Mr. Southey 
that we believe, as truly as he himself, that there is a real 
enthusiasm in religion, though we may not agree with him in 
the application of the term. We do not, indeed, think quito 

* Mr. Souther's solution of difficult and extraordinary cases, on 
which we should be content to avoid giving; an opinion cither way, is 
sometimes even more curious. In mentioning a singular eil'ect pro- 
duced on the Rev. AV. (Irimshaw at the time of his conversion, which 
appeared to him to. proceed from flashes of light, our philosopher dis- 
covers that Mr. G. had his face at the time towards a pewter shelf; 
and then, in the true spirit, of discovery, represents the effect to have 
been galvanic! Pity but this blunt, honest clergyman had been as 
expert as Mr. Southey in tracing effects to their true causes. Galvan- 
ism might then have been discovered, and Grimshaw have robbed 
Qalvani and Italy of the honor. 


so wejl of enthusiasm as to believe, with him, that it can 
originate moral good to individuals, and much less that it is 
able to change the moral aspect of a nation ; and, on the other 
hand, we cannot concede that the "sighing of a contrite 
heart" is an enthusiastic indication, nor yet the confidence 
and joy, and hope of a believer. Nor do we think him an 
enthusiast who is ardent in his devotions, exact and even 
scrupulous in his conduct, and tenderly concerned for the 
salvation of his neighbor. But we should think him an en- 
thusiast who professes, to be governed by any other rule of 
action than the word of G-od, soberly interpreted; and he 
would find no countenance among us. We should also rank 
him with enthusiasts who, under notions of self-sufficiency 
and high spirituality, should consider himself independent of 
the reading of the Scriptures, the instructions of the minis- 
try, and the public and private means of grace, for spiritual 
aid and counsel ; and such a person could not obtain admis- 
sion into our societies, the rules of which would in limine 
oppose his introduction. Nor should we treat in a more 
lenient manner those who, under an impression of their own 
high religious attainments, should fancy themselves author- 
ized to censure and speak evil of others ; for we judge that 
true " charity is not puffed up," and that where humility and 
meekness are wanting, there are no evidences of real piety. 
We should further think him so enthusiastic as to be utterly 
unfit for communion with a religious society, who, under pre- 
tence of any impressions on his own mind, should neglect or 
violate any of the social or domestic duties; because we re- 
gard the moral precepts of the gospel as of equal authority 
with its promises, and teach that "faith without works is 
dead" and unsaving. And, lastly, we should place that man 
in the same rank who attaches greater importance to any re- 
ligious feeling, or any extraordinary circumstance of his con- 
version, as an indication of his spiritual state, than to the 
unequivocal rule of conformity in spirit, temper, and conduct 
to the gospel. When instances of this kind have occurred — 
and occur they will in all religious societies among the unin- 
structed and the ardent — the individuals have uniformly among 
us been taught a very different doctrine; and finding no- 
thing valued by us but what is practical ; that no inward feel- 
ing is allowed to be genuine, but tha* which expresses itself 

southey's LIFE OF WESLEY. 93 

by "gentleness, goodness, meekness, faith, temperance;" 
they have either been cured of their follies, if truly sincere, 
though mistaken, or have at length grown weary of the dis- 
cipline enforced by views so opposite to their own, and have 
withdrawn from us. Nor must Mr. Southey attribute this to 
any recent advances of the body in sobriety and decorum, at 
which he is kind enough to hint ; for we do not accept the 
compliment. We were thus instructed from the beginning; 
and nowhere can we find such views more clearly stated, or 
more strongly enforced, than in the writings of Mr. Wesley. 
In illustration of this I subjoin, in the note below, a passage 
from his sermon " On Enthusiasm." * 

* " There are innumerable kinds of enthusiasm. Those which are 
most common, and for that reason most dangerous, I shall endeavor 
to reduce under a few general heads, that they may more easily be 
understood and avoided. 

"The first sort of enthusiasm which I shall mention, is that of 
those who imagine they have the grace which they have not. Thus 
some imagine, when it is not so, that they have redemption through 
Christ, 'even the forgiveness of sins.' These are usually such as 
'have no root in themselves;' no deep repentance, or thorough con- 
viction. 'Therefore, they receive the word with joy.' And 'be- 
cause they have no deepness of earth,' no deep work in their heart, 
therefore the seed 'immediately springs up.' There is immediately 
a superficial change, which, together with that light joy, striking in 
with the pride of their unbroken heart, and with their inordinate 
self-love, easily persuades them they have already ' tasted the good 
word of God, and the powers of the world to come.' 

"A second sort of enthusiasm is that of those who imagine they 
have such gifts from God as they have not. Thus some have im- 
agined themselves to be endued with a power of working miracles, of 
healing the sick by a word or a touch, of restoring sight to the blind; 
yea, even of raising the dead, a notorious instance of which is still 
alive in our own history. Others have undertaken to prophesy, to 
foretell things to come, and that with the utmost certainty and exact- 
ness But a little time usually convinces these enthusiasts. When 
plain facts run counter to their predictions, experience performs what 
reason could not, and sinks them down into their senses. 

"To the same class belong those who, in preachiug or prayer, 
imagine themselves to be so influenced by the Spirit of God, as in 
fact they are not. I am sensible, indeed, that without him we can 
do nothing, more especially in our public ministry ; that nil our 
preaching ia utterly vain, unless it be attended with his power; and 
all our prayer, unless his Spirit therein help our infirmities. I 
know, if we do not both preach and pray by the Spirit, it is all but 


From what has been said on this subject, it will appear^ 
that fltr. Southey has no explicit conception of religious en- 
thusiasm. By no writer has the term been used so vaguely; 

lost labor ; seeing the help that is done upon earth, he doeth it him* 
self, who worketh all in all. But this does not aff